LONDON (DPA) - Plastic straws, drinks stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds will be banned in England from April 2020, British Environment Secretary Michael Gove said Wednesday (May 22).
The move 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.
"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 access 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 added that the announcement follows the success of a ban on microbeads and 5-pence (S$0.08) 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.