The UK government plans to ban the use of certain single-use plastics in England, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed to CBS News on Monday. The government will officially announce its plan on Saturday.
Proposed plans to phase out certain single-use plastic products – namely items used for takeaways such as cutlery, plates, Styrofoam cups and food and drink containers – were announced in November 2021. According to estimates disclosed at the time, officials said that the country uses 1.1 billion single-use plates and 4.25 billion single-use cutlery each year.
The public could comment on the proposal over the next few weeks, until February 12, 2022.
Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Thérèse Coffey told BBC News she was “determined … to tackle this issue”.
“We’ve already taken major steps in the last year – but we know there’s more to be done and we’ve gained the public’s calls heard,” she told the BBC. “This new ban will have a huge impact in stopping pollution from billions of pieces of plastic and will help protect the environment for future generations.”
The UK government already banned microbeads in personal care products in 2018 and reduced the supply of single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton beds in 2020. However, under the 2021 proposal, plastic “remains widespread and its improper disposal causes pollution of the environment.” pity.”
“A plastic item used for a few minutes can persist in the environment for hundreds of years and threaten wildlife and habitats,” the environment department said. “When broken down into microplastics, it reaches our soils, waterways, oceans and food chains.”
Plastics are a difficult material to recycle, and single-use plastics such as straws, bags and food products generally cannot be recycled at all. Even if plastics are recycled, the material itself can only be reused a certain number of times before it ends up in a landfill. Over time, the plastic pieces just get smaller and smaller until they become so-calledmeaning they are at most millimeters long.
Huge amounts of microplastics have been found in e.gand in marine animals. Researchers they have even been found in humans tissues, placentas, breast milk and blood.
While the move is welcome, many say it has taken too long to implement.
The British activist group Surfers Against Sewage tweeted that “the bare fact is that England lags behind the rest of the UK, which has already introduced bans on these products”. Scotland, for example, completely banned single-use plastic cutlery, plates, drink stirrers and Styrofoam food and drink containers last June, only allowing plastic straws and sticks for balloons under certain circumstances.
“Plastic pollution is choking the oceans at an accelerating rate and is a huge contributor to the climate crisis we all face” – group he said. “We need to see the government move beyond piecemeal policies that only scratch the surface and take real, sustainable action to change our broken system, and that means targets for reducing, reusing and replenishing and reducing plastic pollution. It’s time to turn off the plastic faucet, not just save the bath.”
Greenpeace UK campaigner Megan Randles expressed a similar opinion on BBC News, saying that “we are dealing with a plastic flood”.
“It’s like reaching for a mop instead of turning off a faucet,” Randles said, adding that more needs to be done to reduce plastic and implement a “proper reuse and refill scheme.”