England’s ban on plastic straws, coffee stirrers, and cotton swabs is law as of October, 1, 2020.
The ban was supposed to go into effect on April 1st of this year, but due to the global pandemic the ban was pushed back six months.
Marine Conservation Society states that every year 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used in England alone, and many find their way into oceans and lakes.
We use around 6.8 billion #SingleUsePlastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers in England, every year.
Businesses will now no longer be able to supply these to customers, unless it’s for medical reasons.
— Defra UK (@DefraGovUK) September 30, 2020
“Single-use plastics cause real devastation to the environment and this government is firmly committed to tackling this issue head on,” said Environment Secretary George Eustice in a statement. “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.”
While restaurants, bars, and stores will not be able to use these single-use products, there is one exception. For people with medical conditions or disabilities will still be able to “request a plastic straw when visiting a pub or restaurant and purchase them from pharmacies.”
Plastic straws, stirrers, and swabs are used for mere minutes but take centuries to break down, so it only makes sense to replace them with more eco-friendly options.
“Only with ambitious policy and forward-thinking brands and companies, can we truly stop the plastic tide,” stated Dr Laura Foster, Head of Clean Seas at the Marine Conservation Society.
Single-use plastic waste kills countless marine animals who mistake it for food or become entangled. The only way to save them and clean up our oceans and beaches is to ditch plastic. England has also banned microbeads and increased the charge on single-use bags from 5p to 10p.
Eustice states, “I hope our pioneering track record on single-use plastics will inspire many more countries to follow suit, so we can take on plastic waste together and implement lasting change.”
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.