Plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds to be banned in England

By Conor Matchett
Wednesday, 22 May, 2019, 11:17
Plastic straws will be banned from sale from April 2020 (Photo: Shutterstock)

Single use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds will be among a list of items banned from sale in England from next year.

The Government confirmed the new controls on single use plastics and said the controls will come into place from April 2020.

What will be banned?

The government has said the measures will ban the supply of plastic stirrers from sale completely, regardless of their intended use.

Cotton buds will also be banned from sale unless used for medical purposes, scientific research, or forensic examination in criminal investigations.

Plastic drinking straws will be available for those with medical needs or a disability but will otherwise be banned from sale.

Shops will not be allowed to sell straws but they will be on sale at registered pharmacies online and in stores, following feedback from disabled groups about the need for straws to aid everyday life.

Bars and restaurants will no longer provide straws automatically but will be allowed to provide them to people without asking them to prove they have a disability.

How much of an impact will this make?

The government estimates more than 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used every year, with 10 per cent of cotton buds being flushed down the toilet.

Environment Secretary Michael 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.”

Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage, which campaigns against plastic pollution said, “Stopping the production and distribution of these single-use plastic menaces will prevent them from polluting beaches nationwide.

“It’s a really positive and bold step in the right direction in the battle against plastic pollution.

“It is also helps further drive plastic-free options and alternatives for the public so they can truly make more sustainable choices in their daily lives.”

More needs to be done

Friends of the Earth campaigner Emma Priestland said more needs to be done.

She said, “Legislation to cut down on pointless plastic is good to see but these three items are just a fraction of the single-use plastic nasties that are used for a tiny amount of time before potentially polluting the natural environment for centuries to come.

“Ultimately we need producers to take responsibility for the plastic pollution caused by all their products - whether it’s bags, balloons, packets, containers or otherwise. This is why we’re campaigning for legislation to cut back on pointless plastic across the board.”

This story originally appeared on our sister site, Sunderland Echo.