Government to introduce controls on plastic

New measures that cover plastic straws, plastic drinks stirrers and plastic cotton buds in England will come into force from April 2020.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove confirmed the ban following an open consultation. The ban will include exemptions to ensure that those with medical needs or a disability are able to continue to access plastic straws, and registered pharmacies will be allowed to sell plastic straws and restaurants will be able to provide them on request.

The consultation revealed that over 80 per cent of respondents back a ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws, 90 per cent a ban on drinks stirrers, and 89 per cent a ban on cotton buds.

In England, it is estimated that the annual use of plastic straws is in the region of 4.7bn, 316m plastic stirrers and 1.8bn plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment. 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.”

The announcement follows the Government’s ban on microbeads and 5p charge on single-use plastic bags, which has seen distribution by major supermarkets drop by 86 per cent, as part of the recently announced range of measures to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste underpinned by its recently published landmark Resources and Waste Strategy.

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