Following a Government consultation, which received 53,329 responses, DEFRA has announced a ban on single-use plastics. Of the total respondents, the ban received overwhelming support, with 95% in favour of a prospective ban. As a result of this consultation, DEFRA has introduced draft legislation to ban the supply of single-use plastics in England and these are intended to come into force on 1 October 2023 (subject to parliamentary approval).
The Environmental Protection (Plastic Plates etc. and Polystyrene Containers etc.) (England) Regulations 2023 (the Single-Use Plastics Regulations) will include bans on single-use plastics as follows:
- Plates, trays and bowls (Regulation 3)
- Cutlery and balloon sticks (Regulation 4)
- Expanded and extruded polystyrene food and drinks containers – including cups (Regulation 5).
Offences under the Single-Use Plastics Regulations may result in both civil sanctions and criminal proceedings, which may include:
- A ‘variable monetary penalty’ capped at 10% of annual turnover in England of the person on whom it is imposed (Regulation 9 and Schedule 1, Part 1);
- Criminal proceedings where a person does not comply with a stop notice, which could result in a fine and/or:
- summary conviction a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months; or
- two years imprisonment on conviction of an indictment.
The Single-Use Plastics Regulations also contain the following provisions of note:
- a possible due diligence defence for suppliers (Regulation 6);
- a time limit on prosecution of either three years after the offence, or within 12 months of the prosecutor having knowledge of the offence (Regulation 7);
- powers of entry for examination by an enforcement officer (Regulation 10); and
- publication of information about enforcement action (this exposes companies to reputational damage) (Regulation 11).
The Single-Use Plastics Regulations will have a significant impact on all businesses that supply or sell goods incorporating single-use plastics. Companies have until 1 October 2023 to review their inventory and for suppliers to bring themselves up to speed with the Single-Use Plastics Regulations, which may not be an insignificant endeavour. We will be keeping a close eye on the pending parliamentary approval of the Single-Use Plastics Regulations. Read more on this topic in our content on COP27, where the subject of problematic waste proved an important area of discussion.
Should you require any advice on the Single-Use Plastics Regulations, please contact Ben Sasson and Ben Stansfield.
About the author(s)
Ben helps clients to navigate the planning system, negotiate favourable planning-related consents and neutralise threats to their developments.