The UK & single use plastics bans

Confused about the single use plastics rules in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and now England? Wondering how it affects Vegware? Here’s our useful guide (which we update whenever policy news comes out)…

Vegware's paper and wooden cutlery is not banned in new single use plastic rules in England, Wales Scotland or Northern Ireland, UK
Vegware’s paper cutlery and wooden cutlery are the alternatives to banned plastic cutlery.

UK – four nations, big variations

The UK is not required to bring the EU Single Use Plastics Directive into UK law, but the UK is choosing a similar path to our European neighbours. But the four nations are taking different approaches… Here’s Vegware’s overview table, and you can scroll down for details and links.

PolicyEnglandWalesScotlandNorthern Ireland
Ban single-use plastic cutlery, plates, straws & stirrers (including CPLA cutlery & PLA straws)Yes, from October 2023Yes, from October 2023Yes, since 12 Aug 2022Yes since 2022
Ban expanded polystyrene food containers & cupsYes, from October 2023 (inc foamed extruded PS)Yes, from October 2023Yes, since 1 June 2022 (inc lids)Yes since 2022
Ban all oxo-degradable plasticsNoYes, from 2024NoYes since 2022
Turtle graphic on beverage cups containing plasticNoNoNoYes since 2022
Ban *all* polystyrene lids for cups or takeaway food containersNoYes, from 2024NoNo

DISCLAIMER! This blog post is Vegware’s own understanding of the varying single use plastics rules, which we’re sharing here to help our sector navigate some confusing changes. But it’s not legal advice – do please make your own enquiries, read the original policy documents, and seek your own legal advice on important matters. Thanks!

A closer look…

ENGLAND is the last UK nation to announce its policies to limit some of the most-littered plastic items.

  • New legislation will ban the supply of single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, expanded and extruded polystyrene food and drinks containers, including cups, in England from October 2023.
  • Here is Defra’s guidance, press release overview, and here is the full detail from the consultation response.
  • England differs from the EU and the rest of the UK by including bowls and trays in their definition of plastic plate. The ban for these is on selling them to consumers – e.g. 25 plastic bowls, plates or trays for a party at home. But these items *are* allowed if you are supplying them to another business, or if the items are packaging (pre-filled or filled at the point of sale).
  • Read our blog explaining how English legislation has limited the use of plastic straws and stirrers since 2020.

WALES is bringing in policy in line with much of the EU Directive, likely to take effect in autumn 2023 with further bans coming in in phase 2, starting from 2024.

  • Following a consultation in 2020, the Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Bill was introduced on 20 September 2022 and passed by the Senedd on 6 December.
  • Here’s a simple overview to read. Here’s a link to the bill – skip to the annex on page 11 to see the detailed list and definitions of banned items.
  • A key difference we have noticed with Wales is the ban on ALL polystyrene lids for cups or takeaway food containers. Note – this doesn’t mention just expanded polystyrene, but includes the thin, opaque white PS plastic lids. Most traditional plastic coffee cup lids are made from polystyrene, but Wales can choose from Vegware’s of compliant options: hot cup lids made from CPLA, paper, or moulded fibre.

SCOTLAND is implementing most of the same bans as the EU Single Use Plastics Directive, from 12th Aug 2022. But read on for some important details…

NORTHERN IRELAND must bring parts of the Directive into its own laws by 1st January 2022, as part of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

  • Northern Ireland clients must use cups showing the new EU turtle graphic. Learn about Vegware’s EU-compliant cup ranges and custom print options at
  • A consultation was held in December 2021, requesting views of policy proposals for the reduction of the usage of Single-use Plastic beverage cups and food containers.

You can find links to UK and devolved policies in this House of Commons briefing.

Paper cutlery – an award-winning alternative

2022 saw the launch of our brand-new paper cutlery range. Before the launch in October, the range won the Packaging Award at the Free From Expo in Barcelona and was runner-up at the Sustainable Food Awards in Amsterdam!

Our cutting-edge alternative to wooden and CPLA cutlery has many benefits:

  • This paper isn’t flimsy at all. Our strong, ridged design makes our knives and forks robust enough to enjoy crunchy salads
  • The cutlery is ultra-light, feels great in your hand and has a silky-smooth mouthfeel for a superior eating experience
  • It’s designed for commercial composting where accepted

Vegware’s EU-compliant range

The EU Single Use Plastics Directive is making big changes to Europe’s foodservice packaging habits. Its big aim is to reduce marine litter. It includes banning expanded polystyrene, oxo-degradable plastics and banning some plastic items. EU member states are taking a variety of approaches to put the Directive into their national laws.

Ignore the myth that PLA is being banned – it isn’t. Some member states won’t allow CPLA cutlery or PLA straws from July 2021 – but we have excellent paper cutlery and paper straws. The rest of our range is fully EU-compliant, ready to help you beat the bans on expanded polystyrene and oxo-degradable plastics.

Got any questions? Contact us today!