The Government has announced plans to introduce a ban on plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds across England from April 2020.
Only plastic drink stirrers will be totally banned, while pharmacies will be able to supply plastic straws to disabled users. Plastic cotton buds will remain available to scientists and police forensics teams.
Shops and supermarkets will not be able to sell plastic straws. Bars and restaurants will not be able to display them or serve drinks with straws automatically, but they will be allowed to provide them on request.
The Government estimates England’s annual use of 4.7 billion straws will fall to just 44 million. Defra say 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are thrown away in England every year.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “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.”
The Scottish Government is also taking action to restrict plastic straws and cotton buds, and the Welsh Government is considering similar measures.
The EU has formally adopted a plan to ban a longer list of plastic items by 2021, including plates and cutlery.
Many festivals have moved away from single-use plastic. Glastonbury and Boomtown have both banned plastic bottles from being sold on site. All disposable food and drink packaging sold at Boomtown will be made from Vegware which composts into agricultural soil within 12 weeks.
Image credit: Horia Varlan / ( CC BY 2.0 )