New bans and restrictions on polluting single-use plastics 

New bans and restrictions on polluting single-use plastics 

Government action to tackle the scourge of litter and protect the environment from plastic pollution ramps up from Sunday 1 October, with bans and restrictions on a range of polluting single-use plastic items coming into force.

No business – whether retailer, takeaway, food vendor or part of the hospitality industry – will now be able to sell single-use plastic cutlery, balloon sticks nor polystyrene cups and food containers in England. The supply of single-use plastic plates, trays and bowls has also been restricted. The new regulations were announced in January and extensive work has taken place throughout 2023 to provide further guidance on the ban for businesses.

Read the full Government press release here.

Single-use plastics ban: plates, bowls, trays, containers, cutlery and balloon sticks

The ban on these items includes:

  • 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.

Businesses should:

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

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

Full guidance, read here

NCB Full members can get tailored advice for their business from our advisors. Contact us on 01892 541412 or


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