Environment: What will plastic ban mean for takeaway prices?

Kebab shops along Cardiff's most famous takeaway street have said they are prepared for a ban on single-use plastics - but it could mean pricier takeaways.

Disposable plastic cutlery and trays are among the commonly littered products being outlawed in Wales.

Several traders spoke of a scramble in recent weeks to get hold of more expensive eco-friendly alternatives.

It follows similar bans in England and Scotland.

The Welsh government said the changes - which take effect on Monday - would help tackle "the damaging flow of plastic waste" into the environment.

Cardiff's Chippy Lane

Dubbed Chippy Lane, Caroline Street in Cardiff city centre is one of Wales' busiest takeaway hotspots.

Sam Raslan inside his kebab shop on Cardiff's Caroline Street
Alternative packaging is in short supply, says kebab shop owner Sam Raslan

At Fellas kebab shop, manager Sam Raslan said they were using up the last of their polystyrene trays ahead of the new restrictions.

"We're starting to swap to equipment that's healthier (for the environment)," he said.

"But it costs us more than three times more than before."

It comes on top of dramatic rises in ingredient and energy costs, leading to arguments with customers over the higher price of takeaways, he added.

With a similar ban on disposable plastics having come into force in England last month, another issue has been getting hold of supplies of eco-friendly products.

"Everyone is trying to get it, but there's not enough stuff in the market at the moment," he said.

"Our suppliers only have limited quantities, but it's coming day-by-day."

Tamer Ali of Tony's Fish Bar agreed more environmentally-friendly containers were "very expensive".

"But what can we do?" he asked, adding that he hoped once everybody had made the switch "the prices will come down".

Nasir Ahmadzai behind the counter at Rotana Grill House
Nasir Ahmadzai says he has already made changes ahead of the ban

At Rotana Grill House, owner Nasir Ahmadzai said council officials had been up and down the street raising awareness of the ban.

"I'm feeling 100% that we're ready for it," he said, pointing out that the shop had switched to wooden cutlery and recyclable cartons in recent months.

"People used to complain about the plastic forks," he added, hoping the switch will help attract customers.

What is being banned?

Single-use plastic plates, cutlery, drink stirrers, cotton buds and balloon sticks are all on the list.

Also banned are disposable cups and takeaway food containers made of expanded or foamed extruded polystyrene.

Plastic drinking straws are forbidden too, though there are exemptions for people who need them to drink safely or independently.

a container of chips at the entrance to Cardiff's Caroline Street
Wales' ban on single-use plastics comes into effect today

Businesses, charities and public organisations like schools and councils risk committing a criminal offence if they supply or display these products.

This is the first phase of the ban. The next one includes outlawing single-use carrier bags, polystyrene lids for cups and food containers made of oxo-degradable plastics.

This will come into force before the end of the Senedd term in 2026, the Welsh government said.

What are the alternatives?

Welsh government guidance on the law change said businesses could swap to non-plastic disposable products, made of materials like paper, card or wood.

Plates with any sort of plastic coating have also been banned.

Even better for the environment would be encourage the use of re-usable materials, and allowing customers where possible to bring their own containers.

Dr Rebecca Colley-Jones, whose company Ynys Resources advises businesses on recycling and sustainability, said changing our "throwaway society" was the real priority.

"If we changed everything to paper and that all went into landfill or to be burnt then that's not necessarily a better option - that material still needs to come from somewhere," she said.

"What we need to tackle is the way we actually behave and hopefully this will help push people into that."

Lessons from a plastic-free community

Aberaeron on the Ceredigion coast is one of several communities in Wales working towards plastic-free status - an accolade awarded by environmental campaign group Surfers Against Sewage.

Clare McCowan opened her cafe seven years ago and made a point of not using single-use plastics from the start.

"We're perhaps more aware of the problem, living by the ocean," she said.

Clare McCowan behind the counter at her café
Clare McCowan has never allowed single-used plastics at her cafe

"It comes at quite a considerable cost comparison to the cheaper polystyrene or plastic containers. A cardboard cake box can cost up to £1 for one box, a cup comes in at just under 50p."

But she said customers were on board and prepared to pay a little more to help support the business.

She said she hoped the ban would "move everybody in the right direction".

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