England to ban plastic straws, stirrers, cotton buds

LONDON • Plastic straws, drinks stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds will be banned in England from next April, British Environment Secretary Michael Gove has said.

This follows "overwhelming public support for the move", a statement by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

"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," Mr Gove said in the statement yesterday.

"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."

The ban will include exemptions to ensure that those with medical needs or a disability are able to continue to get access to plastic straws.

The use of plastic-stemmed cotton buds for medical and scientific purposes will also be allowed.

An estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used annually in England, the ministry said.


Mr Gove said the announcement follows the success of a ban on microbeads and a five-pence (eight Singapore cents) charge on single-use plastic bags, which has seen distribution by major supermarkets drop by 86 per cent.

Earlier this year, the British government also launched a consultation on a tax on plastic packaging which does not contain a minimum of 30 per cent recycled content from April 2022, the statement said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2019, with the headline 'England to ban plastic straws, stirrers, cotton buds'. Print Edition | Subscribe