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Wales follows Scotland and England to ban single-use plastics | UK News

Single-use plastics have been banned in Wales from today.

Plastic plates, cutlery and drink stirrers which can only be used once will be included as part of the ban.

The Welsh government says the move would further “embed [its] response to the climate and nature emergency in everything [it does]”.

Other items covered by the ban include cups and takeaway food containers made of expanded or foamed extruded polystyrene, single-use plastic balloon sticks and cotton bud stems.

Single-use plastic drinking straws have also been banned, with exemptions in place for those who need them to drink safely and independently.

The government in Cardiff added this would be the first step as it looks to completely phase out single-use plastic items.

That next phase will see a ban on single-use plastic carrier bags and polystyrene lids for cups and food containers.

Government ministers say that ban will come into force before the end of the current Senedd term in 2026.

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Scotland was the first UK nation to introduce a similar ban on single-use plastics in June last year.

England followed suit on 1 October, with the UK government’s environment secretary saying it would “protect the environment for future generations”.

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Plaid Cymru’s climate change spokesperson Delyth Jewell has welcomed the ban but says more needs to be done.

“We need to go even further and faster to rid ourselves of the plastic plague that pollutes our countryside, our seas and beaches,” she said.

The Welsh government is currently consulting on banning wet wipes containing plastic.

Climate change minister Julie James said if people reused, recycled and repaired more, it would “help create a greener future for generations to come”.

Date set for ban on wide range of single-use plastic items in England | UK News

The ban on a range of plastic cups, cutlery, and food containers will take effect in England this October.

Shops and restaurants will not be able to sell many single-use plastics, including polystyrene containers, leaving businesses to source alternative biodegradable products, like paper cups or wooden cutlery.

The ban will not include the plastic found in pre-packaged supermarket meals, and follows similar moves in Scotland and Wales.

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.

In July last year, a project launched by Greenpeace and Everyday Plastic, found that households across the UK, throw away almost 100 billion pieces of plastic every year.

Plastic pollution takes hundreds of years to break down and millions of tonnes are poured into the ocean every year, with fatal consequences for marine animals.

The government launched a public consultation, which found an overwhelming majority of people were in favour of prohibiting plastic items, but the changes could hit the hospitality sector particularly hard, when costs are already spiralling with inflation.

Warning of ‘considerable difference’ in prices

Edit Shahin is the manager at Cafe Bueno in Romford, East London.

“Absolutely every piece of stock, every item of food has risen in price in the last year, so this [ban] might seem like something small, but it’s not,” he said.

“We do sell a lot of takeaway containers, plastic spoons and plastic cups, so it will make a considerable difference [in price].”

Cafe Bueno already stocks some aluminium foil trays for takeaway meals, and Mr Shahin says they are more expensive than polystyrene containers and wants the government to reduce the price of plastic alternatives for businesses.

“It’s understandable, they [the government] are trying their best to help the environment,” he said.

“But there’s thousands of businesses in the UK, takeaway shops mainly, who all use plastic cups, plastic takeaway containers, so it will affect the whole of the UK, not just us. It’s just pretty much damaging small businesses.”

Mr Shahin also worries that it will be hard to find suitable non-plastic materials for some drinks they serve, like smoothies, which could leak through a paper cup.

‘We have listened to the public’

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey says the ban builds on previous policy changes.

She said: “We have banned microbeads, restricted the use of straws, stirrers, and cotton buds and our carrier bag charge has successfully cut sales by over 97% in the main supermarkets.

“We all know the absolutely devastating impacts that plastic can have on our environment and wildlife.

“We have listened to the public, and these new single-use plastics bans will continue our vital work to protect the environment for future generations.”

But conservation charities want the government to go further.

“We really need to see the plastic pollution tap turned off,” says Amy Slack, head of campaigns and policy at Surfers Against Sewage.

“What we’re seeing now is essentially policies that are bailing out the bath water, and we need to see those policies implemented in a strategic coordinated approach across all of the nations within the UK.”