Single-use plastic plates, cutlery and polystyrene cups could be banned in England under plans to further cut environmentally damaging waste.
A public consultation on banning the items will be launched in the autumn, with the aim of businesses using more sustainable alternatives and cutting polluting plastic litter.
Each person uses 18 single-use plastic plates and 37 single-use plastic items of cutlery each year in England, according to figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Thanks to the durability of plastic, items used for a few minutes can last for centuries in landfill or as litter in the countryside or ocean, it warned.
Around the world, more than one million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals and turtles die every year from eating plastic waste or getting tangled in it.
‘Turn the tide on plastic’
The proposals follow a ban of microbeads in rinse-off personal care products, reducing the number of plastic bags being used and restricting the supply of single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds.
Defra said the latest plans would build on the success of those measures and form part of the government’s commitment to prevent all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “We’ve all seen the damage that plastic does to our environment. It is right that we put in place measures that will tackle the plastic carelessly strewn across our parks and green spaces and washed up on beaches.
“We have made progress to turn the tide on plastic, banning the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, while our carrier bag charge has cut sales by 95 per cent in the main supermarkets.
“Now we are looking to go a step further as we build back greener. These plans will help us stamp out the unnecessary use of plastics that wreak havoc with our natural environment.”
Jo Morley, head of campaigns at City to Sea, said: “We welcome the news that the government are taking steps to tackle some of the most polluting single-use items. This is a much-needed move, that we as campaigners have been calling for, along with thousands of our supporters and members of the public.
“We need now to take a leading role in banning unnecessary single-use plastics to see real benefits for the nation’s and the world’s wildlife.”