Jan. 9 (UPI) — Britain is adding plastic cutlery, plates and polystyrene trays to the list of plastics being banned in the country to protect the planet, the government’s environmental watchdog Therese Coffey said Monday.
Coffey, secretary of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, of DEFRA, said a ban on such items was introduced in Scotland last June and a similar measure in Wales was approved in December.
“I am determined to drive forward action to tackle this issue head-on,” Coffey said. “We’ve already taken major steps in recent years. But we know there is more to do, and we have again listened to the public’s calls.”
Plastic items often do not decompose and remain cluttering landfills for decades.
“This new ban will have a huge impact to stop the pollution of billions of pieces of plastics and help to protect the natural environment for future generations,” Coffey said.
The government said rules against single-use throwaway food and drink items, which are also known to widely pollute rivers and oceans and have a low rate of recycling, could take effect by the end of the year.
The government said that about 1.1 billion single-use plates and more 4 four billion pieces of plastic cutlery are used in England every year. Each person in England uses an average of 18 single-use plastic plates and 37 items of plastic cutlery every year, according to DEFRA, with just 10% being recycled.
The new ban, though, does not cover items found in supermarkets or shops. The government said it would address those by other means.
Megan Randles of Greenpeace UK said more action is needed.
“We’re dealing with a plastic flood, and this is like reaching for a mop instead of turning off the tap,” Randles said.