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LONDON — Single-use plastic plates and cutlery and polystyrene cups could all be banned in England as the British government seeks to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, it said on Saturday.

England uses 1.1 billion single-use plates and 4.25 billion items of single-use cutlery, most of which are plastic, per year, but only 10% are recycled upon disposal, it said.

Under proposals in a 12-week public consultation, businesses and consumers will need to move towards more sustainable alternatives.

The government also launched a separate call for evidence to address other sources of plastic pollution, such as wet wipes, tobacco filters, sachets, and other single-use cups.

Banning plastic in these items could be a future policy measure.

“There is growing recognition of the damage that plastics cause to our environment and marine life in particular. We want to reduce the use of plastics in packaging and ban its use in items linked to littering,” said environment minister George Eustice.

“We have already banned plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds and now plan to extend the ban to cutlery and balloon sticks where alternative materials, like wood can be used.”

A ban on supplying plastic straws and stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds came into force in England last year.

Forced charges for single-use carrier bags has cut consumption in the main supermarkets by 95% since 2015.

The devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are responsible for their own policies on plastic waste. — Reuters