Ban on Plastic Straws, Stirrers and Cotton Buds Comes into Force

Ban on Plastic Straws, Stirrers and Cotton Buds Comes into Force

The UK continues fight against plastic waste to protect natural environments and marine wildlife.

Every year in England we use 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

The ban on supplying plastic straws and stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds has come into force in England today. This marks yet another major step in the Government’s fight against single-use plastic waste to protect our environment and clean up our oceans.

Just one month after ministers confirmed the single-use plastic bag charge would be increased to 10p and extended to all retailers, today’s commencement of the ban will further ensure the country builds back greener.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) estimated that we use 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers, and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds in England every year, many of which find their way into our ocean. By banning the supply of these items, the UK can further protect our marine wildlife and move one step closer to our ambition of eliminating all avoidable plastic waste, as set out in the country’s 25 Year Environment Plan.

The UK is already a world-leader in the global effort of reducing plastic waste. Other key government actions on plastics included a world-leading ban on microbeads, consulting on introducing a deposit return scheme to drive up the recycling of single-use drinks containers, and committing to a ban on the export of polluting plastic waste to non-OECD countries. As announced recently, the 5p charge on single-use bags will be doubled to 10p and extended to all retailers from April 2021. The government will also introduce a new world-leading tax on plastic packaging which does not meet a minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content from April 2022 to encourage greater use of recycled plastic.

It is estimated that between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean globally every year, which has produced many scenes of marine wildlife being injured or killed by plastic waste. The UK is leading on a wide programme of overseas engagements, including through the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance and the Commonwealth Litter Programme, aiming to prevent plastic waste from reaching the ocean in the first place.

The government is also committed to launching a £500 million Blue Planet Fund to protect the ocean from plastic pollution, warming sea temperatures and overfishing, Environment Secretary George Eustice said.

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Franziska Keller conducts research on urban design, focusing on environmental management and sustainability issues.