The UK Government has banned plastic straws, drinks stirrers, and plastic stemmed cotton buds following overwhelming public support to reduce plastic use.
In England 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used each year.
The ban will come into force from April 2020 after a public consultation revealed 80% of respondents backed a ban on plastic straws, 90% on drinks stirrers and 89% on cotton buds.
Restaurants, pubs and bars will not be able to display plastic straws or automatically hand them out, but they will be able to provide them on request.
Read: Plastic straws aren’t the problem – fishing nets account for half the ocean’s plastic
An estimated 10% of cotton buds are flushed down toilets and can end up in waterways and oceans.
Even though non-plastic alternatives are readily available, it is estimated that 95% of straws are still plastic.
Drink stirrers are subject to a total ban, but plastic straws and cotton buds can be used for defined medical purposes.
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.”
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.
A recent report estimates that plastic in the sea is set to treble by 2025.
Hugo Tagholm, CEO, Surfers Against Sewage said: “Stopping the production and distribution of these single-use plastic menaces will prevent them from polluting beaches nationwide.
“It’s a really positive and bold step in the right direction in the battle against plastic pollution.
“It is also helps further drive plastic-free options and alternatives for the public so they can truly make more sustainable choices in their daily lives.”
Read: ‘Biodegradable’ plastic bags can still hold shopping after spending 3 years in the ocean
What do you think about the plastic ban? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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