What is the single use plastic ban, when does it come into place and how will it affect businesses?

The ban will be put in place on 1 October Credit: Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs

Businesses will be unable to offer, sell, or supply single-use plastics from 1 October 2023.

The ban will be enforced by local authorities, and businesses could face fines and criminal charges if they do not comply with the new rules.

The Government's guide to what can and can't be used Credit: Department for Environment & Rural Affairs

What does the ban mean for businesses?

From 1 October 2023, the following plastics will be banned:

  • Single use plastic cutlery 

  • Single use plastic balloon sticks 

  • Expanded and extruded polystyrene food and drinks containers 

  • Expanded and extruded polystyrene cups 

From this date, businesses won't be able to supply any of these items, even if they have stock left over from before the ban was put in place. Businesses are being encouraged to use up any single use plastics they have.

Are there any exceptions to this ban?

Plastic used for packaging will still be allowed, such as covers for salad bowls. The packaging must be pre-filled or filled at the point of sale.

The Government does plan to ban plastic packaging later down the line, although a date has not yet been set for this to be put in place.

As well as this, polystyrene lids for coffee cups will still be allowed, as long as the cup itself is not made of polystyrene.

Plastic packaging that the Government has listed as being allowed include: plates, bowls, and trays.

Are there any recommended alternatives businesses can use?

Some of the alternatives to single use plastics councils are encouraging businesses to use are:

  • Swapping plastic for bamboo or wooden cutlery for takeaway food

  • Swapping plastic for metal cutlery

  • Swapping single use plastic plates or bowls to re-usable alternatives that can be washed

  • Offering paper plates instead of plastic

  • Offering to refill customers’ water bottles or travel cups

  • Encouraging customers to bring their own clean containers for takeaway food

What can businesses do with left over stock?

There are no set plans in place to deal with leftover stock.

Instead, the Government recommends businesses use up their supplies before 1 October and get in touch with their local councils to find out how best to recycle their single use plastics.

Can suppliers still sell single use plastics?

Plastic suppliers can sell their products to businesses without any restrictions, however their buyers will be responsible for making sure all rules are followed.

How will the ban be enforced?

Local authorities and councils will be performing inspections on businesses. If they find businesses to be breaking the rules, they can issue fines and order companies to pay the costs of the investigation.

Why is this ban being put in place?

England uses around 2.7 billion items of single-use cutlery - most of which are plastic - and 721 million single-use plates per year, but only 10% are recycled.

By enforcing this ban, it is hoped that the amount of plastic that is wasted is reduced.

Plastic takes hundreds of years to break down, and the production of it is a large source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...