England to ban plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds with plastic stems

The British Government has banned the sale and use of plastic straws, drink stirrers, as well as cotton buds with plastic stems in England from April 2020.

The move which has been planned for over a year is meant to reduce environmental litter and other impacts caused by over five billion plastic straws, 300 million stirrers and nearly two billion cotton buds with plastic stems used in the UK every year.

Many of these items end up in waterways endangering wildlife.

According to a government report, more that 80% of respondents backed the ban on sale and distribution of plastic straws, and nine out of 10 people favoured a ban on drink stirrers, as well as a ban on cotton buds with plastic stems.

The ban exempts people with medical need or disability, for whom plastic straws and other materials will be available upon request.

The EU is also moving to phase out plastics in various forms.

According to the new law, registered pharmacies will be allowed to sell plastic straws and stirrers over the counter and online, but restaurants, pubs and food service establishments will be banned from displaying and selling them to the public.

UK’s Environmental Secretary, Michael Gove, said: “Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution. These items are often used for just a few minutes, but take hundreds of years to break down.”

The ban does not extend to other parts of the UK

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and Environmentalists have welcomed the new ban, with some saying that the ban did not go far enough.

Emma Priestland, campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said that the items expected to be banned were only part of the plastic problem.

“These three items are just a fraction of the single-use nasties that are used for a tiny amount of time before polluting the environment for centuries to come,” she said.

“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. That’s why we’re campaigning for legislation to cut back on pointless plastic across the board.”

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