Plastic straws and drinks stirrers to be banned from April

22/05/2019 - 08:49
Plastic straws and drink stirrers, and cotton buds with plastic stems will be banned from sale and use in England from next April, the government has confirmed.

The move is hoped to vastly reduce the litter and other environmental impacts of the nearly 5bn plastic straws currently used each year in the UK, along with more than 300m plastic stirrers and close to 2bn cotton buds with plastic stems.

The only exceptions to the new rule will be for people with a medical need or disability, for whom plastic straws and other materials will be available upon request.

Registered pharmacies will be permitted to sell plastic straws, over the counter or online, but restaurants, pubs and other catering establishments will not be allowed to display plastic straws or provide them automatically.

Michael Gove, the environment secretary, said: “Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution. These items are often used for just a few minutes, but take hundreds of years to break down.”

A government consultation found that more than 80% of respondents supported a ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws, while nine out of 10 people wanted a ban on drink stirrers, and a similar number supported a ban on plastic-handled cotton buds.

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality added:  “We fully support the Government’s objective to drastically reduce unnecessary single-use plastic. We are pleased that the Government has recognised the genuine need of some of our customers, with today’s announcement exempting hospitality venues, by allowing straws for customers upon request, which is a practice that the sector was rapidly implementing or moving towards.

“The hospitality sector has voluntarily made significant progress in reducing the availability and use of plastic straws and stirrers, motivated both by a moral duty and our customers’ environmental concerns.”

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