Single-use plastic takes its toxic toll on the environment. The impact is evident, from polluting our seas and contaminating the food chain to increasing carbon emissions through every stage of their lifecycle and taking centuries to decompose in landfill.
Therefore, we welcome news that the English and Welsh Governments are banning further single-use plastics from October 2023, following similar legislation in Scotland.
Read on to discover what the ban means for your food business and the alternatives you need now.
What does the single-use plastic ban include?
The scope of the single-use plastic bans cover plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, and some types of polystyrene cups and food containers. From October 2023, you will not be able to buy any of these products from any business, including retailers, takeaways, food vendors, and the hospitality industry. (Gov.uk)
Tackling the plastic problem
Generally, this legislation has been welcomed. In recent surveys, 77% of respondents were in favour of the ban on single use plastics in Wales. Meanwhile, over 95% of respondents favoured a ban in England.
It has been argued that the bans fall short on reigning in the plastics industry as a whole. They do not apply to plates, trays, and bowls used as packaging in shelf-ready pre-packaged food items, such as pre-packaged salad bowls.
According to the English Government, this will be covered in their planned Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme to incentivise producers to use recyclable packaging and meet higher recycling targets. (Gov.uk). For the Welsh Government, the October ban is only the beginning, with a second phase set for Spring 2026, when further products will be banned (cup and takeaway food container lids made of polystyrene, oxo-degradable plastic products; and plastic single-use carrier bags).
Shortcomings aside, this is a step in the right direction to mitigate the damaging effects of plastic pollution. Plastic kills one million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals, turtles, and fish yearly. (Keep Britain Tidy) It is estimated that 2.7 billion items of single-use (mostly plastic) cutlery and 721 million single-use plates are used in England annually - with only 10% recycled. (Gov.uk)
Consumers choose plastic-free
Consumer opinion is swaying towards plastic-free packaging too. A study showed that 83% of consumers prefer their food to be wrapped in compostable packaging rather than plastic (Yonder, 2021). Gemma Butler, marketing director at the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), said:
“Consumers are far more switched on to the challenges of excessive packaging, especially plastics. Companies that therefore refuse to address their product packaging impacts risk damaging not only the planet, but their reputation too.” (CIM, 2021)
How can you manage the change?
It is worth preparing now to ensure your business is ready when these changes are enforced in October 2023. Despite calls from the sector, the welsh and English Governments are not offering any support for SMEs to make this switch. But we’re here to help you with a curated collection of swaps for single-use plastics in our online shop, and as always, our Account Managers will be on hand to guide you through.
Our plant-based alternatives offer high-quality convenience for your customers without costing the earth, including wooden cutlery, straws, plant-based takeaway boxes, trays, stirrers, and lids.
Alternatives to single-use cutlery
Alternatives to polystyrene cups and plastic bowls
Polystyrene takeaway cups and plastic bowls are included in this new ban in England. We are awaiting clarification on how the legislation applies to certified compostable PLA lined alternatives.
Alternatives to single-use containers, plates, and trays
Plant-based and compostable, our Street Boxes, Trays and Platter Boxes are perfectly designed to protect your hot and cold food offerings. Think burritos, burgers, curries, chips, salads, and more, making it easy to remove single-use plastics from your business.
If you’re still wondering about switching from single-use plastics, get inspired by our customers who love our plant-based alternatives.
Christy, Assistant Cafe Manager from the National Space Centre, told us:
“Planglow’s eco products have helped to increase the perceived value of the offering. Customer service, delivery times, product quality, and understanding of our business and customers are all excellent.”
Please note, this is our current understanding of the legislation, and we will update this post with any developments. Last updated 20/10/2023