A ban on single-use plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds was supposed to come into effect in England this past April, but that ban was put on delay during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, months later, the ban has come into force.
Each year, people in England use an estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers, and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds. That number is expected to drop dramatically as the new measure comes into effect. Under the law, hospitals, bars, and restaurants will still be able to provide plastic straws to people with disabilities or medical conditions that require them.
While the move to ban these single-use plastics is welcomed, environmental activists want the government to crack down on more single-use plastics. Tatiana Lujan, of the environmental law charity ClientEarth, said straws, cotton buds, and stirrers were “some of the most pointless plastics out there” and the ban on them was “a no-brainer”. On top of that, they represent just “a tiny fraction” of single-use plastics being used.
Lujan points to countries like Ireland and France as examples for England—both countries have “shown far more ambition” with targets on reusable packaging and deposit return schemes.