Finally, the UK government has announced a ban on the sale of straws, stirrers and cotton buds in England.
The Department for Environment, Food and Agriculture announced that the changes will take effect next year.
80% of the public in a consultation backed the ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws.
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.
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.”
People in England use and estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic stemmed cotton buds a year with 10% being flushed down the toilet, ending up in waterways and oceans.
The ban has been openly welcomed by Surfers Against Sewage as well, a charity which is hellbent on reducing plastic in the oceans, calling it a “bold step” in the fight against pollution.
Hugo Tagholm, the group’s CEO, said:
“Surfers Against Sewage welcome the ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds. Stopping the production and distribution of these single-use plastic menaces will prevent them from polluting beaches nationwide. It’s a really positive and bold step in the right direction in the battle against plastic pollution.
It is also helps further drive plastic-free options and alternatives for the public so they can truly make more sustainable choices in their daily lives.”
Jeremy Darroch, Group Chief Executive, Sky, has also backed the ban.
“Single use plastic is a disease of our own making. We’re working hard to get rid of it and completely agree with Michael Gove that urgent and decisive action is needed.”
However, despite the ban, the government has assured members of the disabled community that those in need of medical attention will be exempt, ensuring access to those who need drinking straws.
Lauren West, Trailblazers manager at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said:
“If disabled people cannot access plastic straws when out it could put their health at risk as they may not be able to drink and could become dehydrated.
We’re pleased the Government has recognised 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 stigmatised for using single-use plastics.”
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