Plastic straws and cotton buds to be banned from 2020, Gove confirms

A ban on plastic straws, cotton buds and drinks stirrers will come into force from April 2020, Environment Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed.

A consultation on the ban began in October 2018 which garnered over 1600 responses from stakeholders. Over 80% backed a ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws, 90% a ban on drinks stirrers, and 89% a ban on cotton buds.

In England, it is estimated that annually we use 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

An estimated 10% of cotton buds are flushed down toilets and can end up in waterways and oceans.

The ban will include exemptions to ensure that those with medical needs or a disability are able to continue to access plastic straws.

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.

‘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.’

Emma Priestland, plastics campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said that government legislation on plastic must go further.

‘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.’

Thomas Barrett

Thomas Barrett

Journalist. Follow him on Twitter

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