Legislation to ban the sale of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds has entered parliament today (March 3).
It is estimated that England uses 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic cotton buds every single year.
Following a public consultation in Autumn 2018, the government confirmed in May 2019 that it would implement a ban on these items.
In order to strike the right balance to ensure that those with medical needs or disabilities can access plastic straws, registered pharmacies will be allowed to sell straws over the counter or online, but catering establishments will not be able to display plastic straws or automatically hand them.
Plastic cotton buds will also be banned for public use but there will be an exception for scientific and medical use.
The government has said they will carry out a stocktake after one year to assess the impact of these measures.
Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: ‘We must turn the tide on the widespread use of single-use plastics and the threat they pose to our natural environments.
‘Our ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds is yet another measure to clamp down on unnecessary plastic so we can better protect our precious wildlife and leave our environment in a better state for future generations.
‘This ban strikes the right balance, ensuring that we accommodate those with medical needs or disabilities while also protecting the environment.’
Friends of the Earth plastic campaigner Julian Kirby commented on this announcement: ‘A ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds is welcome news, but this is just a drop in the ocean given how many other sources of plastic waste are pouring into our environment.
‘The governments flagship Environment Bill must be strengthened to include targets to stem the flow of all sources of plastic pollution.
‘Ministers must also do more to challenge the throwaway culture by forcing a shift away from all single-use and throw-away materials in favour of reusable alternatives.’
Earlier this year, a petition signed by over 300,000 people was handed to 10 Downing Street demanding tougher government action on plastic pollution.
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