Plastic Straws, Stirrers, And Cotton Buds Are Now Banned In UK
Plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds are now officially banned in the UK from today, October 1.
The ban was supposed to come into force back in April, but was postponed due to the ongoing health crisis. This was because straws and stirrers are largely used by the hospitality sector, which has already been under strain during the pandemic.
Those with disabilities and medical conditions who require plastic straws will be exempt from the ban, however.
The ban comes after the Government’s announcement that single-use plastic bags in England will go up 10p – double the price they are at the moment.
The move has been welcomed by campaigners, although they have expressed concerns that these items only make up for a small amount of the country’s plastic pollution.
As per the Metro, Plastics lawyer at environmental charity ClientEarth, Tatiana Lujan, said:
Single-use plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers are some of the most pointless plastics out there. Banning them is a no-brainer, especially because reusable and non-toxic alternatives are readily available.
But these items form only a tiny fraction of single-use plastics, which litter our environment and release toxic substances and greenhouse gas emissions when incinerated – and even when they’re made. Other countries like Ireland and France have shown far more ambition than the UK, with targets on reusable packaging and deposit return schemes.
Sir David Attenborough has dubbed the issue of plastic pollution as a ‘global catastrophe’. In a report conducted by charity Tearfund, which is backed by Sir David, it was stated that Britain alone exports 650,000 tonnes of plastic waste each year to places such as Indonesia and Malaysia.
Another rising concern in recent months has been the rise in single-use plastic masks and gloves in light of the ongoing pandemic.
Both items have started to litter the world’s streets and oceans, with people recklessly disposing of them. Not only is this terrible for the environment, it could prove harmful for those having to come into contact with them while cleaning them up.
One person attempting to raise awareness about the problem is Maria Algarra, founder of Clean This Beach Up in Miami, Florida, who started #TheGloveChallenge campaign in March.
Speaking to The Independent, Maria said, ‘It not only causes risk to wildlife but to other people who could get infected, our sanitation workers and other shoppers for example, when gloves are left in carts.’
While it’s good the world is taking steps in the right direction to tackle plastic pollution, we’ve got a long way to go.
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