The Government has announced it plans to ban plastic straws by October 2020.
The plan is subject to a consultation launched by Environment Secretary Michael Gove who said: ‘Our precious oceans and the wildlife within need urgent protection from the devastation throw-away plastic items can cause.
‘I commend retailers, bars and restaurants that have already committed to removing plastic straws and stirrers. But we recognise we need to do more. Today we step-up our efforts to turn the tide on plastic pollution and ensure we leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it.’
The Government say they recognise that plastic straws are sometimes necessary for medical reasons and their consultation will ask how to ensure those who need straws for medical and accessibility reasons can still use them.
For example, pharmacies will still be able to sell plastic straws and restaurants, pubs and bars will be able to stock some straws for use on request.
Greenpeace UK’s political adviser Sam Chetan Welsh said: ‘Our society’s addiction to throwaway plastic is fuelling a global environmental crisis that must be tackled.
‘Ministers are doing the sensible thing by looking to ban single-use plastic items that can be easily replaced with better alternatives or that we can simply do without. But this should be just the start.
‘If we are to protect our oceans from the scourge of plastic, the flow of waste needs to be cut off at the tap. And that means the companies producing and selling all this packaging must take responsibility for it and cut down the amount of plastic ending up in our shopping baskets.’
It is estimated there are over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans and every year one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.