The Government is a step closer to extending a ban on single-use plastic items to plates, cutlery and polystyrene cups in England with the launch of a public consultation.
A separate call for evidence will also investigate how to limit other polluting products such as wet wipes that contain plastic, tobacco filters and sachets.
Possible options include banning plastic in these items and mandatory labelling on packaging to help consumers dispose of them correctly.
Environment Act powers could be used to place new charges on single-use items to end the “throwaway culture” and incentivise consumers to choose sustainable alternatives.
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.
England uses an estimated 1.1 billion single-use plates and 4.25 billion items of single-use cutlery – most of which are plastic – each year, but just 10% are recycled upon disposal.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “There is growing recognition of the damage that plastics cause to our environment and marine life in particular. We want to reduce the use of plastics in packaging and ban its use in items linked to littering.
“We have already banned plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds and now plan to extend the ban to cutlery and balloon sticks where alternative materials, like wood can be used.”
Marcus Gover, chief executive of sustainable resource use charity, Wrap, said: “We welcome the consultation to expand the range of single-use plastic items to be banned in England.
“Eliminating problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic is essential if we are to turn the tide on plastic pollution and keep plastic out of the environment.
“The UK Plastics Pact set an ambitious target to take action in this important area and its members have already eliminated problematic plastic by more than 40%. We now need regulation to follow and ensure that all businesses take steps to eliminate problematic and unnecessary plastic.”