THE cost of a kebab in Oxford could go up as traders face a new ban on plastic packaging.

Oxford City Council’s general licensing committee wants to force street food traders to use biodegradable or recyclable boxes and utensils, instead of those made of polystyrene.

Committee member Colin Cook said the ban would only apply to traders given regular licences by the city council and that they could use existing polystyrene stocks up first.

He said: “We are trying to target the kebab vans around the city, to reduce the amount of litter that is not biodegradable. The change would be good for the environment and make the waste easier for us to dispose of.

“They may have to pass extra costs on to consumers, but I do not think it will be significant overall.”

If approved, it is thought the ban could be a first for a UK city.

But former kebab seller Saeid Keshmiri, who ran a van outside Christ Church, in St Aldate’s, for 10 years, said the move would prove expensive for traders.

He said: “The council should consider offering subsidies for this scheme, or sell the packaging and utensils to traders itself for a reduced fee.

“It is great for the environment and for future generations, but business is already very hard at the moment because of the economy.”

Rasim Ulas, owner of city centre kebab van Posh Nosh, added: “All takeaway vans use these types of boxes, because they are easier for customers to walk and eat with.

“My business is just a small one and this could be expensive for me.”

Zoe Brown, of Zoe’s Food Service based in Osney Mead, said she already uses mainly biodegradable containers, but that they were often twice the price.

She said: “It will affect a lot of people. I suppose it is good for the planet but it is a pain, especially if you cannot source it.”

Cleaning the streets in the centre costs about £1m each year, with 600 tonnes of litter being collected, the council has said.

The ban is one of a number of measures the council agreed to consult the public on at a meeting on Tuesday night.

As revealed in yesterday’s Oxford Mail, the policy would also see traders banned from operating within 100 metres of any school or college between 7.30am and 6pm.

Rule changes

  • As of February 2012, all streets in Oxford have been designated “consent streets”.
  • That means food traders must apply for a licence from the city council to sell their products.
  • The council’s general licensing committee suggests a condition should be added to licences which forces street traders to only serve their food in packaging that is biodegradable or recyclable.
  • It would ban materials such as polystyrene, which is not biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to break down.
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