UK issues zero single use plastic fines since introducing ban

Authorities are are being urged to begin cracking down on those who break new regulations introduced on 1st October 2023. 

An investigation by plant-based protein manufacturer Myco has revealed that despite widespread reports on instances in which banned single use plastics have been used, not a single financial penalty has been incurred to date. 

Data obtained using the Freedom of Information Act shows that councils including Bath, Peterborough, Somerset and Sheffield all received complaints about infringements on regulations. Not a single case resulted in a fine, with one caterer in Brent held up as an example of local enforcement opting to issue advice on how to fall in line with the updated rules rather than a fixed penalty. 

While not all forms of single-use plastic are currently prohibited in the UK, the introduction of tighter legislation around this issue was trumpeted as ‘the next big step’ in toughening up on harmful and unnecessary waste. According to Environment Minister Rebecca Pow, the Government had been engaging with businesses for some time before the rules were brought in, ensuring they would be prepared for the changes. Critics argue knowledge and understanding of the new rules is not yet comprehensive or universal. 

Although 95% of the public backs the updated regulations, several of the country’s major authorities — including the City of London, Manchester City Council, and Edinburgh City Council — reported they have received zero complaints relating to single use plastics. Analysts are concerned this suggests a disconnect between backing the rules and taking action to bring those who break them to justice, as oppose to a sign of complete compliance. 

‘This law was designed to deter businesses from using single use plastics, which are an environmental nightmare. However, the lack of fines is incredibly worrying and sends out a shocking message,’ said John Shepherd, Co-founder of the plant-based protein manufacturer Myco. ‘While nobody wants to see anybody fined, especially in the current economic climate, businesses do have a duty to keep up-to-date with legislation. Simply giving businesses a slap on the wrist or a dressing down just isn’t much of a deterrent I’m afraid.

‘My worry is that councils don’t take the environment seriously enough. Just look at recycling –while household recycling is collected, businesses that produce far more often either have to drive it to a tip or put in general waste – so they need to up their game when it comes to the future of our planet,’ he continued. ‘There’s clearly businesses across the country using single use plastic items, and the public have a duty of care to the planet to do their bit to get them to stop.’

More on plastic pollution: 

Davos must understand climate change and plastics are interlinked

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Plastic pollution interceptor testing restarts following flood damage



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