Plastic straw and cotton bud ban comes into force in England
England’s ban on plastic-stemmed cotton buds, plastic straws and plastic stirrers comes into force today (October 1) in a move to reduce the damage of single-use plastics on the environment.
The ban, which was set to be introduced in April 2020 but was delayed due to the effect of coronavirus on businesses, means it is now illegal for shops and supermarkets to supply the plastic items to customers, while in places such as spas and beauty salons they cannot hand them out for clients to use.
However, there are some exemptions to ensure that those with medical needs or disabilities are able to continue to access plastic straws. For example, registered pharmacies will be allowed to sell plastic straws over the counter or online after many disabled groups highlighted how straws are essential for everyday life and that a total ban could lead to the risk of dehydration.
This news will be well received as 57% of Brits believe that plastic pollution is the single greatest threat to life and the environment in modern history, found a study by shopping app Ubamarket, and 77% stating that, no matter how much they recycle, it’s the manufacturers and supermarkets that are causing the most plastic pollution.
Why are plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers bad for the planet?
Single-use plastic versions of cotton buds pose a serious threat to the planet once thrown away, which is why they are being eliminated from beauty routines with this ban and the rise of sustainable alternative options.
According to Government figures, an estimated 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used in England each year and around 10% of these are flushed down the toilet, ending up in waterways and oceans which can cause harm to marine wildlife. Meanwhile, officials also say that an estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws and 316 million plastic stirrers are also used each year.
In May 2019, environmental secretary Michael Gove confirmed that a ban would be coming after an open consultation, which demonstrated overwhelming public support for the move.
He 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.”
This news follows the ban on the use of microbeads in cosmetic products in 2018 and many believe that wet wipes could face the chop next as the Government continues with its 25-year Environment Plan.
What do you make of the ban? Comment below.