Got all giddy when I read that Oxford Council were banning plastic takeaway packaging….. only to be disappointed. Very disappointed!

On the 18th April 2015 The Independent reported that Oxford Council was to

ban non-recyclable plastic food containers

The story quoted one in the Oxford Mail  published Tuesday 14 April 2015 in News

“NON-recyclable takeaway boxes are to be banned from Oxford food vans.

Under new rules approved last night, packaging and utensils used by street traders, including burger and kebab vans, must be either recyclable or biodegradable.

Businesses will be allowed to use up existing stock that does not comply, but will have to make the change when they apply for their next annual licence from Oxford City Council.”

With thanks to the Oxford Mail


And the Independent quotes the council as saying

“The city is thought to be the first in the country to announce such a measure, and the city’s Labour council leader Bob Price told The Independent he was “sure many other local authorities will be taking the same approach as Oxford” soon.

Plastic take-away food containers are an environmental disaster and recyclable and biodegradable alternatives are easily available,” he said.

“As a society, we should be relentless in driving down the amount of rubbish we send to landfill and increasing the level of recycling and re-use of materials.”

More cheers!!! But wait…

technically polystyrene, and other plastics, are recyclable. It can be difficult and expensive and food stained items, full of half chewed kebab, floating in last nights slurry of spilt beer, (and worse), are less likely to be recycled. But they can be recycled!

“You can recycle foam meat trays and clamshells (#6 polystyrene) if they are free of food stains and food odors. Wash with a little soap then rinse and let stand to dry. If food stains persist, toss them into trash. To recycle them, bag them separately.”

So it is the plastics industry who are now cheering thanks to this amendment…

Oxford polystyrene U-turn hailed by plastics industry Posted 15 April 2015  by Plastic & Rubber Weekly

“following a plea made by Martin Kersh, executive director of the Foodservice Packaging Association, the council amended the wording.

It now reads “For food traders all packaging and utensils for use by customers shall be made of biodegradable or recyclable materials.

Kersh told PRW: “The councillors agreed that the phrasing of the by-law should be altered from biodegradable and recyclable to be biodegradable or recyclable.

“It would be very difficult to enforce a ban on polystyrene.”

Following the council ruling, British Plastics Federation (BPF) director-general Philip Law said: “A victory for common sense and a recognition that plastics packaging products are recyclable, save energy and help reduce the carbon footprint of retailers. The Food Service Packaging Association and Incpen, together with the BPF were active in informing Oxford’s local politicians and council staff.”

Oxford Council confirmed to PRW that as polystyrene is recyclable then it can continue to be used.”

Hmmm…. all plastics are theoretically recyclable and as technology advances are becoming more so, so what exactly have Oxford Council banned? Not plastic, not polystyrene, what? Is there actually a non- recyclable plastic packaging in common use, out there? If so, what is it called? Really, I want to know?

The point surely should have been that plastic does not biodegrade. If not collected, and specially disposed of, plastic litter is out there for ever – a permanent visual blight on the landscape and a threat to the ecosphere. So while it may be recyclable, using it for one-use, disposable items that can become everlasting litter is a misuse of plastic. And clearing it up is a misuse of council resources.

What we need is a ban on the misuse of plastic.


The problems with polystyrene – yuck you really don’t want to be eating this stuff.



4 thoughts on “The ban that didn’t?

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