Plastic Straws Stirrers And Cotton Buds Banned In England From Today
The ban itself means that the single use plastic products can no longer be sold or distributed, and it is now illegal in almost all circumstances for businesses to give them out to members of the public.
There are exemptions, such as for people who are disabled and need to use a plastic straw to drink, as well as those with other medical conditions that make it necessary for them to use the single-use item.
Even though the ban has only just come into force and was pushed back by a few months, Environment Secretary George Eustice reiterated that the UK government remains 'firmly committed to tackling' the use and environmental impact of single use plastics.
He said: "The ban on straws, stirrers and cotton buds is just the next step in our battle against plastic pollution and our pledge to protect our ocean and the environment for future generations.
"We are already a world-leader in this global effort. Our five pence charge on single-use plastic bags has successfully cut sales by 95% in the main supermarkets, we have banned microbeads, and we are building plans for a deposit return scheme to drive up the recycling of single-use drinks containers."
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The Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the UK was previously getting through around five billion straws each year, as well as 1.8 billion cotton buds and 316 million plastic stirrers.
Whilst the news has been welcomed by many environmental groups, they have also warned that there is still a long way to go if the government is to reduce the dependence on disposable plastics to an acceptable level.
John Read, the founder of Clean Up Britain, told Sky News: "I think the government do deserve some credit for nudging people's behaviour in the right direction but actually when you look at it, it's really more piecemeal and symbolic than anything else.
"We need to change people's behaviour in a sustainable and permanent way, we need to see a national behavioural change campaign and that's what we haven't got in this country at the moment.
"People have got to understand that when they throw away plastic straws, hamburger packets, crisp packets, it's all their own personal pollution... so people understand that they're doing the damage to the environment."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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