Ban on plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has conformed to public pressure and announced a ban on plastic straws, drinks stirrers, and plastic stemmed cotton buds in England.

Following overwhelming public support for the move, a ban on the supply of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds will come into force in April 2020, although with exemptions to ensure that those with medical needs or a disability are able to continue to access plastic straws.

Over 80 per cent of respondents to the government’s consultation on the issue backed a ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws, 90 per cent a ban on drinks stirrers, and 89 per cent a ban on cotton buds.

Gove said: “Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment. These items are often used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down, ending up in our seas and oceans and harming precious marine life. So today I am taking action to turn the tide on plastic pollution, and ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations.”

It is estimated that the UK annually uses 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds. An estimated 10 per cent of cotton buds are flushed down toilets and can end up in waterways and oceans.