The UK government has announced that from 1st October 2023 hospitality businesses in England must no longer offer certain single-use plastic items. This new legislation will impact takeaway, fast-food and quick service restaurant businesses across the country. Here’s everything you need to know.

Sandwich in box

Single-Use Plastics Ban: Is Your Business Affected?

If you’re producing and selling food for takeaway or delivery, then the chances are your business could be affected by this new legislation. From 1st October businesses including restaurants, cafés and takeaways will no longer be able to provide bowls, plates or cutlery made from single-use plastic – including polystyrene.

Spices in a cup

The legislation will also affect biodegradable and compostable packaging

The legislation covers all packaging that is meant to be used only once and then disposed of. So even if you’re using biodegradable, compostable or recycled packaging, if the item contains single-use plastics then you will still need to change your packaging to comply with the new law and avoid receiving a fine. 

chef packing food

What items of packaging are covered by the legislation?

The new legislation covers all of the following items made from single-use plastics:

  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Cutlery
  • Cups
  • Takeaway trays
  • Balloon sticks
Having food

What packaging alternatives exist to replace these items?

There are several brands on the market that provide plastic-free food packaging. Try speaking to your packaging supplier to see if they already offer plastic-free alternatives, or to get their advice and recommendations.

Serving food

Are there any exemptions to the legislation?

Yes. Packaging that is used for pre-packaged items purchased ‘off the shelf’ or filled at the counter will be exempt. For example salad bowls, ready meals or plates filled at a counter.


What could the implications be for my business?

Plastic-free packaging does tend to be more expensive, so you may find that your packaging costs increase. Try planning ahead to ensure changes to any of your packaging supply costs are budgeted for.

Businesses who don’t comply with the new legislation could receive a fine, so make sure you’re well prepared.

For further information and guidance on the single-use plastics ban, please visit the UK government website.