The UK Government has unveiled plans to ban the supply and sale of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds as part of its efforts to safeguard rivers and seas.
According to the government, around 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are estimated to be used per annum in England.
The government is planning to launch a ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton bud between October 2019 and October 2020, based on the views collected during consultation, which will be organized by Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
The government will allow pharmacies to market plastic straws for medical reasons, and also restaurants, pubs and bars can stock some straws for use on request.
Commenting on launching the consultation, Gove said: “Our precious oceans and the wildlife within need urgent protection from the devastation throw-away plastic items can cause.
In England we are taking world-leading action with our ban on microbeads, and thanks to the public’s support have taken over 15 billion plastic bags out of circulation with our 5p charge.
“I commend retailers, bars and restaurants that have already committed to removing plastic straws and stirrers. But we recognise we need to do more. Today we step-up our efforts to turn the tide on plastic pollution and ensure we leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it.”
The government has already implemented ban on microbeads and 5p charge on single-use plastic bags, which helped to significantly decrease distribution by major supermarkets.
The world’s oceans are estimated to include more than 150 million tons of plastic each year and one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die from eating and getting trapped in plastic waste each year.
As per the recent report, the plastic in the sea is set to treble by 2025.
Recently, five African Commonwealth countries, including Seychelles, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and the Gambia, have joined the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance, to support plastics elimination in oceans.
The alliance was launched in April during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
The UK government has allotted £61.4m funding to enhance global research and support countries across the Commonwealth to restrict plastic waste from entering the oceans.