England has good news for the environment and terrible news for whoever has to do the dishes after a child’s birthday party.
A range of single-use plastics including plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, and other polystyrene cups and food containers will be banned as of October 2023 in England, the Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey announced in a press release on Saturday.
“We have listened to the public and these new single-use plastics bans will continue our vital work to protect the environment for future generations,” Coffey said in a statement, adding that she is “proud” of the work she has already done to help the environment, including banning microbeads and restricting the use of plastic straws and stirrers.
England uses about 2.7 billion items of single-use cutlery and 721 million single-use plates every year but just one in ten are recycled, according to an estimate cited by the environment ministry. The amount of single-use plastics we use has tripled globally since the start of the pandemic, according to earthday.org. These kinds of plastics end up filling oceans, lakes, and rivers, piling up on land, and becoming major sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
“Plastic is a scourge which blights our streets and beautiful countryside and I am determined that we shift away from a single-use culture,” Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said in a statement. “By introducing a ban later this year we are doubling down on our commitment to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste.”
Scotland and Wales has passed similar legislation, and the United Nations is working on a global plastic pollution treaty. The U.S. plans to ban sale of single-use plastic on public lands and national parks by 2032, but the country has yet to pass any legislation banning single-use plastics similar to Englands.