Europe

Single use plastic cutlery set to be banned in the next few weeks

Therese Coffey asked if King Charles will attend COP27

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A ban on single-use plastic cutlery, plates and polystyrene cups may be imposed in the next few weeks. It is expected that Environment Secretary Therese Coffey will announce that she will replace the items with biodegradable alternatives.

The move is planned to reduce the amount of single use waste.

Every year in England around four billion items of plastic cutlery and one billion plates are thrown away.

It comes move than two years ago after ministers banned the sale of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds in England.

Last year the Government launched a consultation into banning other disposable objects such as food and drink containers and balloon sticks.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman said that reducing England’s reliance on single use plastic was vital to “transform our waste industry.”

Campaign group City to the Sea however argued that ministers needed to go much further against biodegradable plastics

They warned that these plastics “won’t break down in the natural environment and so will do nothing to tackle the plight of plastic pollution”.

A spokesman for the group said that although they welcomed the ban on single use items, they warned that the alternatives could also be environmentally damaging.

He said: “Firstly, we strongly welcome the news that these polluting single-use items are set to be banned soon.

“This is what over 118,000 of our supporters called for with our petition earlier this year and what over 50,000 demanded when they responded to the Defra consultation.

“It is however incredibly alarming to read reports that these important, and frankly very minimum, environmental standards might be watered down to exempt ‘biodegradable’ single-use alternatives.

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“Many of these bio-plastics are incredibly environmentally damaging and won’t break down in the natural environment and so will do nothing to tackle the plight of plastic pollution.

“We desperately need the Environment Secretary to clarify these comments.”

He added that the EU classes biodegradable plastics as “plastics£ and that it would put the UK “out of step with its neighbours”.

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