Plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic cotton buds will be banned in England from today (October 1).
The measure, which was originally due to start in April, will make it illegal for businesses to sell or supply the items.
It is estimated that people in England use 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers, and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds every single year.
Environment secretary George Eustice said: ‘Single-use plastics cause real devastation to the environment and this government is firmly committed to tackling this issue head-on.
‘The ban on straws, stirrers and cotton buds is just the next step in our battle against plastic pollution and our pledge to protect our ocean and the environment for future generations.
‘While making this important step to help the environment, disabled people and those with medical conditions will also be protected and will be able to request a plastic straw when visiting a pub or restaurant and purchase them from pharmacies.’
Environmental campaigners have welcomed the ban, however, Friends of the Earth have warned that far tougher measures are needed.
The campaign group are calling on the government to introduce further legally binding plastic reduction targets in the upcoming Environment Bill.
Siôn Elis Williams, Friends of the Earth plastic campaigner said: ‘The ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds is welcome news, but these items are just a fraction of the plastic rubbish that pours into our environment and threatens our wildlife.
‘The government must get tougher on plastic with short and longer-term targets that are legally binding in its Environment Bill, currently passing through Parliament. What is then needed is a strong framework to check that standards have been met, in doing these things there is a hope of stemming the tide of plastic pollution.
‘Ministers must also do more to challenge our throwaway culture by forcing a shift away from all single-use materials in favour of reusable alternatives.’
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