Single-use plastics

Single-use plastics (SUPs) are plastic products that are used once, or for a short period of time, before being thrown away.

Single-use plastics include things such as:

  • cigarette butts
  • plastic straws
  • plastic drink stirrers
  • plastic coffee cups and lids
  • plastic cutlery
  • plastic food containers
  • plastic bottles
  • most plastic food packaging
  • plastic bags
  • basically anything designed to be used once before being thrown away or recycled.

The impacts of this plastic waste on the environment and our health are global and can be drastic. Single-use plastic products are more likely to end up in our seas than reusable options.

In order to combat the drastic impact that single-use plastics have on our planet, we encourage all residents to do things like:

  • try to find alternative products – bring your own bags to the supermarket and use net bags for loose fruit or vegetables instead of plastic ones
  • bring your own water bottle and coffee cup
  • buy bars of soap instead of plastic bottles of liquid soap
  • buy washing powder in cardboard packaging instead of plastic containers

Plastic straws have already been banned, while the Government is planning to ban plastic cutlery, plates and polystyrene cups before the end of the year.

For more tips on how to reduce your use of single-use plastics, visit:

Single Use Plastics ban

From 1 October 2023 businesses must no longer supply, sell or offer certain single-use plastic items in England.

The ban on these items will include:

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

How to prepare for the ban

You can prepare your business for the new rules by:

  • using up existing stock before 1 October
  • finding re-usable alternatives to single-use items
  • using different materials for single-use items

If you continue to supply banned single-use plastics after 1 October, you could be fined.

There are some exemptions to the ban, depending on the item.

Plates, bowls and trays

From 1 October you must not supply single-use plastic plates, trays and bowls to members of the public.

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 of this type of packaging 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

Cutlery and balloon sticks

From 1 October you must not supply single-use plastic cutlery or balloon sticks.
There are no exemptions to this ban.

Polystyrene food and drink containers

From 1 October you must not supply ready-to-consume food and drink in polystyrene containers. This includes in polystyrene cups.

Polystyrene means expanded and extruded polystyrene.
You can still supply food or drink in polystyrene containers if it needs further preparation before it is consumed. For example, further preparation could mean:

  • adding water
  • microwaving
  • toasting


Inspections will be carried out to make sure the rules are being followed.
Inspectors can:

  • visit a shop or store
  • make test purchases
  • speak to staff
  • ask to see records

If you break the law, inspectors can order your business to cover the cost of the investigation.

Complaints about a business breaking the law can be made to Trading Standards.

Appealing a fine

You can appeal within 28 days of getting a fine if you think something is wrong. A letter with the fine will tell you what to do.

If you can show that you did everything you reasonably could to avoid breaking any rules, this would be an acceptable defence.

Get help

If you have any questions about what the new rules mean for your business, contact

Why not join your local plastic free group and join the fight against single-use plastics?

If you’re interested in joining, get in touch with your local group on the list below:

If you can’t see your local area on the list above, see if you can find your local group on the Plastic Free website.