FT - James Lowman, chairman, ACS

ACS chief executive James Lowman

The government has confirmed a ban on a range of single-use plastics will come into force from October 2023.

The ban will include single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers. From October, the public will not be able to buy the banned items from shops, takeaways and other food vendors.

The initial consultation on the measures outlines its aim to contribute to the 25-year Environment Plan, which has the ambition of eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2042. According to estimates, 2.7 billion items of single-use cutlery, most of which are plastic, are used in England each year, but only 10% are recycled.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Local shops are committed to reducing the amount of single-use plastics in their businesses and supporting the environment, with thousands of retailers implementing voluntary carrier bag charges in England before they were mandatory. We urge the government to publish further details and guidance for retailers on the upcoming ban to allow them adequate time to prepare ahead of the October introduction date.”

Figures from the ACS Voice of Local Shops Survey of more than 1,200 retailers shows that thousands are already providing plastic-free alternatives in their businesses. Forty two per cent of independent retailers surveyed said they provided paper cups for customers, with 40% providing paper bags for fresh produce and 33% providing paper straws for drinks served in store.

In the announcement, the government also confirmed that it would be pressing ahead with plans to introduce a deposit return scheme in England, following the Scottish scheme which will come into force in August this year.