How does the Ban on Single-Use Plastics affect British Asians?

A ban on some single-use plastic products has come into force. But how does it affect British Asians and their businesses?

Plastics affect British Asians f

"we have stopped using plastic products."

A ban on some single-use plastic products came into force across England on October 1, 2023.

Under the new rules, shops and hospitality businesses will no longer be able to supply plastic cutlery, balloon sticks and polystyrene cups.

The government says the move will “tackle the scourge of litter and protect the environment from plastic pollution”.

But councils have warned that some firms are not ready for the change.

This includes many South Asian catering companies which provide plastic cutlery and disposable thali trays that are a common feature at Desi functions.

This can be weddings or parties.

These trays feature sections for different foods and can be stacked on top of one another, making for easy disposal.

At Royal Lahori Chef in Birmingham, the ban has not affected them, having already switched products before the ban came into effect.

A spokesperson said: “We don’t use plastic bags, we only use paper bags.

“After our last delivery, I asked them (the suppliers), we are not using any [plastic products] after this.

“After this delivery, we have stopped using plastic products. There’s only foam cups and a few other things.

“We use ceramic plates normally.

“Some people need those [plastic products] but when we got the last delivery last month, we’re not getting any more after this.”

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

The vast majority of these products cannot be recycled and can take hundreds of years to biodegrade in landfill sites.

The use of single-use plastic plates, trays and bowls has also been restricted but there are some exceptions for now.

Businesses such as takeaways can still have them if they are used as packaging.

Despite the exception, the single-use plastic ban still has an effect on takeaway owners who are looking to get biodegradable packaging.

One of those is Bhupinder Singh, who owns Shakespeare Fish Bar in Warwick.

He said: “The main thing is that it’s hard to get a biodegradable alternative to the current option we have at the moment.

“The new options are not very good quality and the prices are still high.

“Suppliers are still not managing to get the proper alternative. The temporary trays we’ve had to buy are also not great quality-wise and the price is still higher than the polystyrene option.

“We’ve had to buy new trays that are recyclable but the quality is not great. They’re quite flimsy.”

“Eventually, we’ll get the new, good-quality trays but they’ll be at least 20-40% dearer compared to the polystyrene ones according to our suppliers. This also includes cups and cutlery.”

Speaking about the ban, Mr Singh added:

“Obviously, it’s a good move for the environment but purely from a business point of view, it will be costly for us especially as we don’t charge customers extra for trays, cups, pots etc.”

The new rules are part of a wider goal to eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said the government has 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.

She said the latest ban will “protect the environment and help to cut litter – stopping plastic pollution dirtying our streets and threatening our wildlife”.

The ban in England will be enforced by local trading standards officials but a body representing councils warned some businesses and customers are unaware of the change.

Darren Rodwell, environment spokesman for the LGA, said:

“This is a valuable policy to reduce waste but there is still more to do.”

However, some environmental campaigners have criticised the government for not introducing wider restrictions on plastic products.

Anna Diski, plastics campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said:

“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.”

Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”

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