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Announcement is a welcome step in fight to ‘turn the tide on plastic pollution’

The Government has today (22 October) set out its plan to ban the distribution and sale of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds to protect our rivers and seas.

The plan is subject to a consultation launched by Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

In England, it is estimated that annually we use 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds. An estimated 10% of cotton buds are flushed down toilets and can end up in waterways and oceans. These single-use plastic items are used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down.

In order to eliminate these items from use, the Government intends to introduce a ban on their distribution and sale. The ban would come into force at some point between October 2019 and October 2020, subject to the views collected during consultation. The consultation seeks views on how to ensure those who need straws for medical and accessibility reasons can still use them.

Responding to the announcement, Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton said:

“Our army of volunteers collect tens of thousands of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds during their litter-picks in their communities and on beaches, week in, week out – removing something from our environment that shouldn’t be there in the first place.

On behalf of them and the wildlife and marine life that is so catastrophically affected by plastic, we would like to thank the Secretary of State for taking this action that will make a difference and start to turn the tide on plastic pollution.

We hope to see further measures, including a deposit return scheme for all drinks containers including plastic bottles and economic measures to reduce the use of other single-use plastics, when the Resources and Waste Strategy is released.”

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