Government announces ban on plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers – but campaigners say this is just the beginning

PLASTIC straws, cotton buds and coffee stirrers will be outlawed in the UK by April next year, the government has confirmed.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 23rd May 2019, 3:41 pm
Lizzie Pollard, left, with Bianca Carr, both from The Final Straw Solent. Picture: Malcolm Wells

Following an open consultation, a ban on the supply of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds will come into force in April 2020 – with an exemption for those with medical needs or disabilities.

According to The Final Straw Solent, an anti-plastic campaign run in association with The News – more than 15,000 plastic cotton buds have been picked up since 2018 in Hayling Island alone.

Co-founder Bianca Carr says that the decision is great news, but that the government should only look at this as the start of their fight against single-use plastic.

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She said: ‘I think it’s really important to show that they're doing something; it’s an amazing start.

‘This proves that the people at the top can hear us, but there’s still much more to do.

‘I think plastic cutlery should be next on the chopping block, because you find so much of it during beach cleans in the Solent area.’

The government’s response to the consultation published on May 22 revealed more than 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 annually we use 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

An estimated 10 per cent of cotton buds are also flushed down toilets and can end up in waterways and oceans.

Debbie Tann, chief executive of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, added: ‘This is a positive step forward on the part of the government to start tackling the huge challenges facing our natural environment.

‘Plastic is clogging up our precious chalk rivers and choking our local seas.

‘Of course the crisis for our wildlife can't be averted by one simple fix alone, and we want to see much more ambitious commitments within the forthcoming Environment Bill.

However, this decision – coming off the back of the swell of public outrage over plastic pollution – shows that people power works.

‘Now is the time for everyone to tell politicians how much they care and to demand a wilder future.’