Britain has banned shops and hospitality businesses from supplying single-use plastic cutlery, balloon sticks and polystyrene cups.

Some new restrictions will also be applied to the supply of single-use plastic plates, bowls, and trays, but exemptions are in place for takeaways and other businesses which sell pre-packaged food.

The government says the new measure, which came into effect yesterday, is intended to ‘tackle the scourge of litter and protect the environment from plastic pollution’, according to the BBC.

Around 1.1 billion single-use plates and more than four billion pieces of plastic cutlery are used in England every year, government figures suggest.

According to the BBC, the vast majority of these products cannot be recycled and can take hundreds of years to biodegrade in landfill sites.

The new rules, which were announced in January, are part of a wider goal to eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042.

Britain’s Environment minister Rebecca Pow said the government had already implemented ‘world-leading’ bans on straws, stirrers and cotton buds, as well as rolling out charges for carrier bags and an industry tax on large plastic packaging imports.

However, Greenpeace UK says more needs to be done.

The BBC quotes Greenpeace plastics campaigner Anna Diski as saying: ‘Legislating token bans on a few single-use plastic items every few years… [is] completely inadequate to the scale of the problem. Instead of this piecemeal approach, the government needs to address the problem at source and roll out a serious strategy to cut how much plastic is being produced.’

[Image: Jas Min on Unsplash]