Takeaway mayhem as hospitality firms face £200 fines as plastic packaging ban set to come into force this weekend

29 September 2023, 14:36 | Updated: 29 September 2023, 15:58

The ban is set to come into force on Sunday.
The ban is set to come into force on Sunday. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

A ban on single-use plastic set to come in this weekend has caused uproar amid claims hospitality owners were 'unaware' of the change.

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The ban will prohibit hospitality firms from handing out plastic cutlery, plates and polystyrene trays in England - including biodegradable, compostable and recycled products.

Set to come into force on Sunday 1 October, councils will be responsible for enforcing the ban and inspecting premises. Those who fail to comply could face a fine of £200.

Single-use plastic containers, trays and bowls used to package food in takeways and pre-package food in retailers will not be included in the ban.

The government said the ban was the “next big step” in its “journey to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042’.

But the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents local authorities, has warned that not enough firms and individuals have been made aware of the changes in time.

“Councils are sure that businesses want to comply with these new regulations and keep plastic waste to a minimum” Cllr Darren Rodwell, environment spokesman for the LGA, said.

“However, we are concerned that some local businesses and consumers are not aware of the impending ban on these materials and would encourage everyone to take a look at the materials impacted by it.”

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Plastic cutlery, plates and polystyrene trays will be banned under the change.
Plastic cutlery, plates and polystyrene trays will be banned under the change. Picture: Alamy

The LGA have also expressed concern that as some hospitality firms are unaware of the changes, it means the fast-approaching ban could result in more pressure for councils, as they will need to enforce the ban as well as dispose of the plastic.

Anna Diski, plastics campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: "Legislating token bans on a few single-use plastic items every few years... [is] completely inadequate to the scale of the problem.

"Instead of this piecemeal approach, the government needs to address the problem at source and roll out a serious strategy to cut how much plastic is being produced."

It comes after the British Independent Retail Association warned earlier this month that more than 6,000 independent businesses were unaware of or unprepared for the ban.

"This new ban is the next big step in our mission to crack down on harmful plastic waste,” Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said.

“It will protect the environment and help to cut litter - stopping plastic pollution dirtying our streets and threatening our wildlife.

“This builds on world-leading bans on straws, stirrers and cotton buds, our single-use carrier bag charge and our plastic packaging tax, helping us on our journey to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.”

The ban will not include plastic containers for takeaways and retailers.
The ban will not include plastic containers for takeaways and retailers. Picture: Getty

It comes after a similar ban was enforced on single-use plastic straws, stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds in 2020.

A government spokesman said councils would receive funding to help enforce the ban and was working to ensure that the Trading Standards offices were ready.

Around 1.1 billion single-use plastic plates and 4 billion plastic cutlery are used in England every year but only around 10 per cent recycled, government figures suggest.

Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive, said: “Hospitality businesses have made huge strides in reducing their plastic usage and that progress has resulted in the vast majority of venues already eliminating single-use cutlery from their operations, a crucial part of our ambitions to reach net zero.

“We’ve been pleased to work with the Government to ensure these new bans and restrictions are also practical for hospitality businesses, all while working towards the nation’s sustainability goals.”