Plastic straw ban comes into force in England
England's long-awaited ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds has come into force today following a six-month delay due to the coronavirus crisis.
It is hoped that the ban will help curb the estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers, and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds used in England every year.
This comes just one month after ministers confirmed that the single-use plastic bag charge would be increased from 5p to 10p and extended to all retailers, building on the government's commitment to “build back greener” from COVID-19.
“The ban on straws, stirrers and cotton buds is just the next step in our battle against plastic pollution and our pledge to protect our ocean and the environment for future generations," said environment secretary George Eustice.
“Our 5p charge on single-use plastic bags has successfully cut sales by 95% in the main supermarkets, we have banned microbeads, and we are building plans for a deposit return scheme to drive up the recycling of single-use drinks containers.”
It is estimated that between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean globally every year, leading to many instances of marine wildlife being injured or killed by plastic waste.
Although the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds is now illegal in England, disabled people and those with medical conditions will still be able to request a plastic straw when visiting a pub or restaurant, and to purchase them from pharmacies.
Friends of the Earth (FoE) welcomed today's ban, but warned that the newly-illegal items only account for a small fraction of the plastic that enters the natural world every year.
"The government must get tougher on plastic by including legally-binding targets to stem the flow of all sources of plastic pollution in its Environment Bill,” said FoE plastic campaigner Siôn Elis Williams.
"Ministers must also do more to challenge the throwaway culture by forcing a shift away from all single-use and throw-away materials in favour of reusable alternatives.”
Image credit: iStock
Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM