What can I continue using?What can I continue using?

Food Packaging Legislation: UK Single Use Plastic (SUP) Ban

We wanted to help set the record straight and de-clutter the confusion. The main thing is please do not panic. You will still be able to use of the recyclable and compostable plastic packaging we have been supplying you for many years.

Please read the key pints below: 

• It is not a ‘’blanket’’ ban on all SUP products and packaging.

• Only a few items have an outright ban – most notably plastic straws and plastic cutlery. This includes single use bioplastics straws and cutlery.

• The legislation is not banning most plastic items for use in the food packaging sector, especially for Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) and Grab ‘n Go.

• In the case of QSR food packaging, most plastic disposables are not banned if they are pre-filled, pre-packaged and used for food delivery.


How can I prepare for the ban?

You can prepare your business for the new rules by:

•  using up existing stock of plastic cutlery and straws before 1st October 

•  start buying wood cutlery and paper straws

If you continue to supply banned single-use plastics after 1st October, you could be fined.



The Detail 

1. The ban for SUP cutlery, plates, straws & stirrers (including CPLA cutlery & PLA straws) is to be introduced in England & Wales in October 2023. Scotland and Northern have already implemented this policy in 2022. There are no exceptions to this, and anyone displaying, selling or offering a plastic drinks stirrers or straws will be guilty of an offence.

2. Plastic straws will be permitted in catering establishments on request only and for those with medical or accessibility needs; however, no proof of medical condition is required for those requesting straws. Catering establishments are not permitted to have plastic straws visible to customers or where they can access them. Anyone doing so is guilty of an offence. Anyone offering a plastic straw to an end-user is also guilty of an offence. 

3. Plastic straws will be available to health sites and catering establishments in the pharmaceutical and wholesale sectors. Pharmacies must not display them in-store nor advertise them but do permit them to sell plastic straws online. 

4. Ban of *all* polystyrene lids for cups or takeaway food containers will take effect from 1st October 2023 but for Wales only. This ban doesn't apply to England, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

5. To provide drinks in paper cups in Northern Ireland will require the turtle logo on any cups with plastic from 1st October 2023. This applies to both PE and PLA lined paper cups. This does not apply to England, Wales or Scotland.



Anyone identified displaying or having plastic straws visible in their establishment or anyone offering a plastic straw that has not been requested is guilty of an offence and can be prosecuted.

In addition, anyone displaying, selling or offering a plastic drinks stirrer will be guilty of an offence.

The penalty will be either a compliance notice or a fine of up to 10% of annual turnover. 


How can I appeal a fine?

You can appeal within 28 days of getting a fine if you think something is wrong. A letter with the fine will tell you what to do.

If you can show that you did everything you reasonably could to avoid breaking any rules, this would be an acceptable defence.


How can I get help?

If you have any questions about what the new rules mean for your business, contact [email protected].

Technical information for manufacturers: Expanded and extruded polystyrene.

Polystyrene is a polymer made from styrene monomers. Only polystyrene that has been through a foaming process is in the scope of this ban.

Foaming is a method of expansion of the material at any point during its manufacture, by any means (such as heat from steam, expansion during cooling), using any blowing agent (such as butane, pentane, propane).

Products made from polystyrene that has been expanded prior to fusion are expanded polystyrene (EPS) products.

Products made from polystyrene that has first been extruded, then expanded, are extruded polystyrene (XPS) products.

The following examples outline 2 manufacturing methods for EPS and XPS products. Other manufacturing processes for polystyrene products are also covered in the ban.


Expansion (foaming) prior to fusion (EPS)

1.    Expandable polystyrene beads.

2.    Beads impregnated with blowing agent.

3.    Beads heated in a steam chamber to allow for bead expansion (foaming).

4.    Expanded beads pumped into product mould.

5.    Mould is heated to fuse beads.

6.    Item released from mould.


Extrusion prior to expansion (foaming) (XPS)

1.    Polystyrene nurdles.

2.    Granules passed through an extruder to melt and for the addition of a blowing agent.

3.    Polystyrene passed out of an extruder, the reduced pressure and cooling allows for expansion (foaming).

4.    Polystyrene sheet formed into product shape.

5.    Polystyrene item cut from sheet.


What does this mean for my customers and me? 

Regardless of where you are in the UK, the supply and use of SUP for cutlery, plates & stirrers will be prohibited from 1st October 2023.

This means if your business operates anywhere in the UK, you need to be in a position to offer an alternative product to the plastic products you currently use for cutlery, plates & stirrers.

For further Information please see this UK Government link for more about Far-reaching ban on single-use plastics in England.