Businesses urged to comply with single-use plastic ban in England from 1 October

Businesses urged to comply with single-use plastic ban in England from 1 October
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Fri 29th Sep 2023

The government is reminding businesses of a new ban on certain single use plastic in England from Sunday 1 October.

Under the changes, all businesses, including retailers, takeaway firms and food vendors, cannot sell single-use plastic cutlery, balloon sticks, polystyrene cups and food containers in England.

The ban does not apply to single-use plastic plates, trays and bowls used as packaging in shelf-ready pre-packaged food items. The government said these will be included in plans for an extended producer responsibility scheme, aimed at incentivising producers to use less packaging and meet higher recycling targets.

Plastic pollution is a major cause of damage to oceans, rivers and land. It takes hundreds of years to break down and its production is a source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Research shows people in England use 2.7 billion items of mostly plastic single-use cutlery and 721 million single-use plates every year, but only 10% are recycled. If 2.7 billion pieces of cutlery were lined up, they would go round the world more than eight-and-a-half times.

Environment minister Rebecca Pow said:

"This new ban is the next big step in our mission to crack down on harmful plastic waste. It will protect the environment and help to cut litter – stopping plastic pollution dirtying our streets and threatening our wildlife.

"This builds on world-leading bans on straws, stirrers and cotton buds, our single-use carrier bag charge and our plastic packaging tax, helping us on our journey to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042."

How to comply with the plastic ban in England from 1 October 2023

'Single use' means the item is meant to be used only once for its original purpose.

The ban 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


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 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

You can still supply food or drink in polystyrene containers if it needs further preparation before it is consumed. Examples include:

  • adding water

  • microwaving

  • toasting

Supply of single-use plastic cutlery and balloon sticks will be completely banned with no exemptions.

Steps businesses can take to replace single use plastic

Somerset Council shared these steps that businesses can take:

  • Swap plastic for bamboo or wooden cutlery for takeaway food

  • Swap plastic for metal cutlery for inhouse guests

  • Swap single use plastic plates or bowls to re-usable alternatives that can be washed.

  • Offer paper plates instead of plastic.

  • Offer to refill customers' water bottles or travel cups.

  • Encourage customers to bring their own clean containers for takeaway food.

Local authorities will carry out inspections to make sure the rules are being followed. You could be fined if you do not comply.

Full government guidance on the plastic ban in England is here.

Some single-use plastic products are also banned in Wales from 30 October 2023. Find more details in our 2023 regulations guide.

Relevant Enterprise Nation resources

Enterprise Nation's Plan it with Purpose sustainability advice hub

Sustainable packaging: How it benefits your small business

Webinar: Understanding the basics of small business sustainability

Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance journalist and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I'm also Enterprise Nation's news reporter and Bristol Local Leader. I have 20 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from famous names like Sir Richard Branson and Deborah Meaden to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I now freelance for Enterprise Nation as the website's news reporter and as the host of the Small Business sessions podcast. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community in my role as Enterprise Nation's Local Leader for Bristol. I also have strong connections with other major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 100 events including conferences with an audience of hundreds for international brands like Xero and Facebook and live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography.

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