UK Mulls Ban On Many Single-Use Plastics In England

The proposal could bar the sale of plastic cutlery, plates and polystyrene cups.

The United Kingdom is set to ban many single-use plastic items, including cutlery, plates and polystyrene cups, in England as the country seeks to stop a torrent of plastic pollution.

The Financial Times reported Wednesday the U.K.’s environment secretary, Thérèse Coffey, will announce plans to phase out the products and replace them with biodegradable options in the coming weeks. The effort will build on plastic bans that are already in place and bar plastic straws, stirrers and cotton swabs.

The governments of Scotland and Wales have already taken similar steps.

“We are determined to go further and faster to reduce, reuse, and recycle more of our resources in order to transform our waste industry and deliver on our commitments in the ambitious 25-year environment plan,” a spokesperson for the U.K.’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told The Guardian. “Cutting our reliance on single-use plastics is crucial.”

The proposal comes after a public consultation launched by the government last year. Officials are also considering how to broaden its efforts on plastic waste, The Financial Times added, including tackling pollution linked to cigarette filters and wet wipes.

Plastic pollution remains a growing concern among environmentalists and researchers who have long warned that such products are difficult or impossible to recycle, despite claims from manufacturers. Such products often filter into the environment or the ocean, where they kill more than a million marine animals every year.

A recent study released by Greenpeace USA found just 5% of plastic products were recycled in the United States last year, and many common items can’t be recycled at all. The United Nations Environment Program estimates just 9% of all plastics have ever been recycled, a dismal figure.

Initiatives to ban single-use plastics have grown in popularity in recent years. In the U.S., California became the first state to pass a sweeping law to reduce the products in June. The European Union also introduced restrictions on some single-use plastics, which went into effect last year.

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