UK Government To Ban Sale Of Plastic Straws, Stirrers, And Cotton Buds From Next Year

People with a disability or a medical need for plastic will be able to get them upon request, according to reports
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Turtle and straw

Plastic straws can affect marine life (Photo: Adobe. Do not use without permission)

The UK Government has confirmed that the sale and use of plastic straws and drink stirrers, and cotton buds will be banned from April 2020.

It is hoped the ban will significantly reduce the environmental impact of these single-use items, which often end up in waterways, harming marine life.

The announcement follows a Government consultation, in which more than 80 percent of respondents said they supported a ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws, and 90 percent wanted a ban on drink stirrers and cotton buds.

'Urgent action'

"Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution," Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, said. "These items are often used for just a few minutes, but take hundreds of years to break down.

"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."

Plastic straws

Straws will be available on request for those who need them

'Part of the problem'

Producers need to be aware of all the plastic products that can cause problems, said Emma Priestland, Campaigner at Friends of the Earth.

"These three items are just a fraction of the single-use nasties that are used for a tiny amount of time before polluting the environment for centuries to come," she added.

"Ultimately, we need producers to take responsibility for the plastic pollution caused by all their products, whether it's bags, balloons, packets, containers or otherwise. That's why we're campaigning for legislation to cut back on pointless plastic across the board."

Available on request

Straws will still be available upon request for those with a disability, or medical need for them. Registered pharmacies will be able to sell plastic straws. Consumers can request them in eateries, who will not be allowed to display plastic straws or provide them automatically.

Some campaigners welcomed the news that those who need straws will be able to obtain them, with Lauren West, Trailblazers Manager at Muscular Dystrophy UK, saying: "We're pleased the Government has recognized this in its proposals put forward today.

"We would encourage Defra to continue consulting disabled people and groups like Trailblazers to ensure we are not disadvantaged or targeted and stigmatized for using single-use plastics."