By Tony Winterburn • 01 October 2020 • 6:56
A ban on the use of single-use plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers comes into force in England today.
APRIL was the original deadline for the new legislation, which stops the sale and distribution of the single-use plastic items. But, coming in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and given its massive impact on supply chains, the government decided to postpone the ban until now. Thousands of tons of plastic is already on its way to recycling plants across the UK as businesses have been bagging their stocks up ready to go on the big day.
Environmental campaigners welcomed the ban but called for a crackdown on further single-use items. An exemption will allow hospitals, bars and restaurants to provide plastic straws to people with disabilities or medical conditions that require them.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said the government was “firmly committed” to tackling environmental “devastation” caused by single-use plastics. Campaigners welcomed the move but said the items formed only a “fraction” of the plastic waste littering the environment. Sion Elis Williams, of Friends of the Earth, said ministers “must also do more to challenge our throwaway culture by forcing a shift away from all single-use materials in favour of reusable alternatives.”
Rebecca Pow, the Environment minister, said: “We must turn the tide on the widespread use of single-use plastics and the threat they pose to our natural environments. Our ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds is yet another measure to clamp down on unnecessary plastic so we can better protect our precious wildlife and leave our environment in a better state for future generations.
Pre-pandemic, Defra says the UK was getting through almost five billion straws annually, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion cotton buds! Spain’s ban on single-use plastics will come into force next year.
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