In an attempt to cut down on plastic pollution, cotton buds, drink stirrers and straws could be banned within a year.
A consultation on the proposal is set to launch today (October 22), which will gather views from stakeholders on the proposals to ban the distribution of the items.
In banning them – the plastic ones – the government is looking to try to give businesses no choice but to use non-plastic alternatives. The restrictions would come into place some time between October 2019 and October 2020.
Environment secretary, Michael Gove, will cite the success of the five pence charge on single-use plastic bags at the consultation, which led to an 86 per cent drop in their use at major supermarkets.
According to The Guardian, Gove will add:
Our precious oceans and the wildlife within need urgent protection from the devastation throwaway plastic items can cause.
I commend retailers, bars and restaurants that have already committed to removing plastic straws and stirrers, but we recognise we need to do more.
Today we step up our efforts to turn the tide on plastic pollution and ensure we leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it.
The website for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs explains the consultation further:
A ban on the distribution and/or sale of plastic straws, plastic drinks stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds in England (subject to a consultation), was announced by the Prime Minister at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit held in April.
These single use plastics are associated with negative effects on the environment if they are littered or discarded incorrectly after their use.
Not only do they damage terrestrial and marine life, there are costs associated with their clean-up and externality costs imposed on the tourism and fishing industries when they are incorrectly disposed of.
This consultation aims to address the impact of plastic straws, plastic stemmed cotton buds and plastic drink stirrers on the environment.
Some attempts at reducing plastic consumption have already been put into place by high street companies. Starbucks are planning to eliminate the use of plastic straws from its stores worldwide by 2020, while McDonald’s will replace all its plastic straws with paper ones in its UK and Ireland restaurants.
Tesco have started trialling recycling machines in-store, which will pay customers ten pence for each plastic bottle returned, in the hopes to encourage customers to recycle more.
Jason Tarry, UK and ROI CEO of Tesco, made the following statement about the recycling machines:
We are already committed to eliminating single use plastic wherever we can and make recycling simpler for customers. Today is another step in that direction
However, we know that it is going to take retailers, manufacturers and government to work together to make progress.
We would urge the government to move to a single, nationwide approach to waste collection that makes it much easier for people to recycle.
It’s estimated there are more than 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans. It’s important to cut back on the use of plastic to reduce the effects it has on the environment.
You can respond to the consultation to give your views on the banning of plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers here.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]