The Impact of the Single Use Plastic Ban: What does it mean for your business?


The single-use plastic ban is a further step taken by the UK government to reduce waste and pollution. Starting from October 1, 2023, the ban will restrict or prohibit the sale and use of various single-use plastic items.


This is in addition to the items previously restricted in 2020 which were single use plastic straws, single use plastic cotton buds and the banning of single use plastic coffee stirrers.  We are also all now familiar with being charged for single use plastic carrier bags.


But what exactly are the implications of the single-use plastic ban for businesses and how can you best adapt to the upcoming changes? 


The Ban: What’s in vs what’s out?


The items that are banned from being sold to consumers or businesses are single-use plastic cutlery, polystyrene packaging used for ready-to-eat or drink food, and single-use plastic balloon sticks. It’s important to note that businesses cannot sell or provide these items to consumers, and they can’t use up their existing stock after the ban comes into effect.


There are also restrictions placed on single-use plastic plates, trays, and bowls. While these cannot be sold directly to consumers, they can still be sold to businesses and used in food hospitality if they are filled at the point of sale. So, cafes and takeaways can continue to use them in this context only. 


The ban is focused on single-use items, which means they are meant to be used only once for their original purpose. This includes any plastic items, whether wholly or partly made from plastic and it includes bio and non-bio plastics..


Who will enforce the ban and why are these new laws coming in? 

The enforcement of the ban will be carried out by local authorities through their Trading Standards offices.


The introduction of this ban is driven by a number of factors. Plastic pollution has serious environmental impacts, as it takes hundreds of years for plastic to break down and causes harm to the environment. It also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions during production and disposal. Additionally, there is a significant issue of unnecessary littering, with a large number of single-use plastic items not being recycled.

To see which items are banned, see this flowchart.

What are the alternatives for your business to single use? 

To comply with the ban and reduce plastic waste, businesses are encouraged to explore alternative options. 


Our first recommendation is to ask if you need to be using it in your business at all?  We find that a lot of businesses provide plastic cutlery because they always have done but customers don’t even use it – so ask first.


Make it easy for your customers to use their own reusables.  Customers are getting used to bringing their own cups and drinks bottles and shopping bags so why not cutlery.  You could even sell sets of reusable cutlery so customers can purchase one from you instead of using a single use one.


Could you charge customers for the use of single use items? – the carrier bag charge demonstrated how customers’ habits changed when they were charged for carrier bags and it reduced the usage by over 90%.


Consider offering returnables such as our Borrow* coffee cups, a scheme which combats the 7 million single-use paper cups that are used and thrown away every day in the UK.


If your business has no choice but to use disposable items, opt for more sustainable alternatives like paper, wood, or moulded sugar cane waste for cutlery, and paper, pasta, or rice for straws. The choice of alternatives for polystyrene packaging depends on the type of use, but options like cardboard or paper with a liner can be considered.


It’s worth noting that the ban on single-use plastic plates, cutlery, balloon sticks, and polystyrene cups and containers supplied to restaurants, cafes, and takeaways is specific to England. Scotland and Wales have also implemented similar bans on single-use plastic products.

If you have any more questions please do get in touch with us at and please find here some useful Q&A which the Government has issued and you can find out further details on the website. 


Subscribe to our