From 1 October 2023 businesses must no longer supply, sell or offer certain single-use plastic items in England.
Applies to England
The ban on these items includes:
- online and over-the-counter sales and supply
- items from new and existing stock
- all types of single-use plastic, including biodegradable, compostable and recycled
- items wholly or partly made from plastic, including coating or lining
‘Single use’ means the item is meant to be used only once for its original purpose.
- use up existing stock before 1 October
- find re-usable alternatives to single-use items
- use different materials for single-use plastic items
If you continue to supply banned single-use plastics after 1 October, you could be fined.
There are some exemptions to the ban, depending on the item.
Plates, bowls and trays
From 1 October you must not supply single-use plastic plates, trays and bowls to members of the public.
You can still supply single-use plastic plates, bowls and trays if either of the following apply:
- you are supplying them to another business
- the items are packaging (pre-filled or filled at the point of sale)
Examples of this type of packaging include:
- a pre-filled salad bowl or ready meal packaged in a tray
- a plate filled at the counter of a takeaway
- a tray used to deliver food
Cutlery and balloon sticks
From 1 October you must not supply single-use plastic cutlery or balloon sticks.
There are no exemptions to this ban.
Polystyrene food and drink containers
From 1 October you must not supply ready-to-consume food and drink in polystyrene containers. This includes in polystyrene cups.
Polystyrene means expanded and extruded polystyrene.
You can still supply food or drink in polystyrene containers if it needs further preparation before it is consumed. For example, further preparation could mean:
- adding water
Local authorities will carry out inspections to make sure the rules are being followed.
- visit a shop or store
- make test purchases
- speak to staff
- ask to see records
If you break the law, inspectors can order your business to cover the cost of the investigation.
Complaints about a business breaking the law can be made to Trading Standards.
Appealing a fine
You can appeal within 28 days of getting a fine if you think something is wrong. A letter with the fine will tell you what to do.
If you can show that you did everything you reasonably could to avoid breaking any rules, this would be an acceptable defence.
If you have any questions about what the new rules mean for your business, contact Plastics.Consultation@defra.gov.uk.
Technical information for manufacturers: expanded and extruded polystyrene
Polystyrene is a polymer made from styrene monomers. Only polystyrene that has been through a foaming process is in the scope of this ban. Foaming is a method of expansion of the material at any point during its manufacture, by any means (such as heat from steam, expansion during cooling), using any blowing agent (such as butane, pentane, propane).
Products made from polystyrene that has been expanded prior to fusion are expanded polystyrene (EPS) products.
Products made from polystyrene that has first been extruded, then expanded, are extruded polystyrene (XPS) products.
The following examples outline 2 manufacturing methods for EPS and XPS products. Other manufacturing processes for polystyrene products are also covered in the ban.
Expansion (foaming) prior to fusion (EPS)
- Expandable polystyrene beads.
- Beads impregnated with blowing agent.
- Beads heated in a steam chamber to allow for bead expansion (foaming).
- Expanded beads pumped into product mould.
- Mould is heated to fuse beads.
- Item released from mould.
Extrusion prior to expansion (foaming) (XPS)
- Polystyrene nurdles.
- Granules passed through an extruder to melt and for the addition of a blowing agent.
- Polystyrene passed out of an extruder, the reduced pressure and cooling allows for expansion (foaming).
- Polystyrene sheet formed into product shape.
- Polystyrene item cut from sheet.