A ban on plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds will come into force in April 2020, environment secretary Michael Gove has confirmed.
Exemptions will be included to ensure those with disabilities or medical needs do have access to straws, which will be sold in registered pharmacies and allowed to be provided on request by catering establishments.
Gove said: “Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment. These items are often used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down, ending up in our seas and oceans and harming precious marine life.
So today I am taking action to turn the tide on plastic pollution, and ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations.”
Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality today responded: “We fully support the government’s objective to drastically reduce unnecessary single-use plastic. We are pleased that the government has recognised the genuine need of some of our customers, with today’s announcement exempting hospitality venues, by allowing straws for customers upon request, which is a practice that the sector was rapidly implementing or moving towards.
“The hospitality sector has voluntarily made significant progress in reducing the availability and use of plastic straws and stirrers, motivated both by a moral duty and our customers’ environmental concerns.”
The moves follows a consultation that saw 80% of respondents back a straw ban, 90% a ban on stirrers and 89% a ban on cotton buds.
In England it’s estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million stirrers and 1.8 billion cotton buds are used each year.
Many hospitality companies have already moved to ban plastic straws and coffee stirrers from their sites, introducing biodegradable alternatives.