Plastic cutlery and plates may be banned in UK in drive to halt oceans pollution

1st July 2018 | Recycling

Plastic cutlery and plates could be among items banned in Britain as the government looks at ways to stem the tide of synthetic waste polluting the seas. Environment chiefs are offering a £19,000 contract to experts to assess the economic, social and environmental effects of outlawing their sale, together with straws and plastic balloon sticks. It comes five weeks after the European Commission announced plans to ban single-use cutlery, plates, straws, cotton buds, drinks stirrers and balloon sticks by 2021 under a new drive to reduce marine pollution.

The commission is proposing a ban on 10 products that, together with discarded plastic fishing gear, account for 70 per cent of all marine litter. Critics have previously said the UK is “shamefully lagging behind” France when it comes to government action on plastic knives, forks, spoons, plates and cups.

Sea Pollution

In 2016, France became the first country to outlaw such items, although the law will not come into effect until 2020. The new contract announced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) states, “Single-use plastics, including plates, plastic cutlery and plastic balloon sticks may have significant negative impacts on the general environment when they are discarded after use.

“The Government wishes to assess what the economic impacts of introducing regulations banning these items in England would be and weighting these impacts against the resultant environmental benefits.”

Suppliers, who have until Friday to bid, will be asked to look at “the impact on businesses, both domestic manufacturers and those that either use or sell them, including importing plastics: and the costs of using alternative materials for these products.”

Evident of the damage caused by plastic is undisputed. Campaign group Plastic Oceans Foundation says humans are now producing 150m tons of single-use plastic every year, more than 8m of which are dumped into the sea. Half of all plastic is used just once before being thrown away.

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