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UK Issues Guidance on Single-use Plastics Ban in England

Stacks of styrofoam containers

The United Kingdom (UK) Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs issued a Guidance on how to prepare for a ban on single-use plastic items that will be effective in England on October 1, 2023 [see Environmental Protection (Plastic Plates etc. and Polystyrene Containers etc.) (England) Regulations 2023)]. The ban applies to the single-use categories listed below: 

  • Plates, bowls, and trays unless they are supplied to another business or are pre-filled or filled at the point-of-sale. Examples of exempted plates/bowls/trays include pre-filled salad bowls, plates filled at a counter, and trays used to deliver food.
  • Cutlery and balloon sticks.
  • Polystyrene food and drink containers unless food or drink in these containers need further preparation before consumption, such as the addition of water, microwaving, or toasting. 

The Guidance explains that “polystyrene” is “a polymer made from styrene monomers” and that only polystyrene that has been through a foaming process is within the scope of the ban. Polystyrene products specifically mentioned in the document, and covered by the ban, are those made from polystyrene that has been expanded prior to fusion (expanded polystyrene products - EPS) and those made from polystyrene that has first been extruded, then expanded (extruded polystyrene products - XPS).

The ban on these items applies to online and over-the-counter sales; items from new and existing stock; all types of single-use plastic (including biodegradable, compostable, and recycled); and items made wholly or partially from plastic (including those with a plastic coating or lining).