England to Ban Plastic Straws, Cotton Buds And More...

England's ban on plastic straws, cotton buds and plastic stirrers will come into force in April of this year (2020). 

The UK government, following consultation with experts, corporations and the general public, have decided on the ban to to help reduce plastic pollution and the devastation single-use plastics are causing to wildlife and the environment.

"Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment," said Michael Gove, who was Environment Secretary at the time. 

"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." He concluded.

In addition to this much-welcomed ban, there has been taxes proposed on plastic packaging that contains less than 30% of recycled materials. The specific timings have not been confirmed.

Plastic Straw Ban UK

England Plastic Straw Ban April 2020 

The aim of the new regulations will be to restrict the availability of plastic straws. For example, supermarkets will not be allowed to sell the straws but certain pharmacies and online outlets will be allowed to. Disabled groups have highlighted the need for plastic straws for some individuals, and this is one important reason why they will still be available in certain approved stores. 

Bars and restaurants will still be able to provide plastic straws when requested by those that need them. However, they will not be displayed and will not be given out freely with orders. It is hoped that the new measures will change behaviours and the current acceptance of plastic straw use. It is expected that the regulations will encourage more people to use their own reusable straws such as metal straws or ditch the drinking straw completely. 

More Plastic Products Affected

Plastic drinking straws, plastic cotton buds and drink stirrers will all be banned in April 2020 in England. With many companies producing eco-friendly alternatives, including bamboo cotton buds the move has been welcomed by most people. If individuals are honest with themselves, apart from convenience, we could each make simple swaps that are more eco-friendly or avoid using certain items entirely.

Plastic Cotton Bud Ban  

Businesses in the food and retail industry in particular are going to have to rethink their entire supply chain, as packaging is predominantly plastic but that will have to change. Certain coffee shops, such as Starbucks, began to reward customers for bringing their own reusable coffee cups into store. Once the public get back into a habit of reusing rather than the throwaway culture we have become accustomed to, it will provide benefits on a considerable scale. 


alternatives to plastic bags

Image courtesy of MGR Infographics 

Other Countries Waging a War on Plastics

Similar changes to those above are currently being discussed by the Welsh and Scottish governments. Scotland has already banned the manufacture and sale of plastic cotton buds and it is expected more rules will be imposed in the future. 

The European Union have pledged to ban an even longer list of plastic items by 2021. Member states will be forced to abide by certain stringent targets of plastic reduction / recycling in a bid to reduce the blocs environmental impact bill by up to 22 Billion Euros. 

Other countries are also joining forces to stop plastic pollution in its tracks. Tourist haven Bali announced a complete ban on single-use plastics last year and countries such as Thailand have also brought in new measures to stop the devastation that single-use plastic use is causing. The hugely popular 7/11 stores in the country have recently stopped dishing out plastic bags - leading to some rather creative alternatives being used by their customers. 

 What do you think to the new regulations? 



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