Government to end the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds

The European Parliament has approved a new law banning single-use plastic items including plates, cutlery, straws and cotton bud sticks.

The Government has announced that it is eliminating plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds from sale in the hope of reducing the amount of plastic in the oceans. 

It will also urge all Commonwealth countries to unite in tackling plastic pollution. 


Subject to consultation, the Government has said it is prepared to ban the sale of these items in England under plans to protect rivers and seas, as well as meet its aim of eliminating avoidable plastic waste as part of its 25 Year Environment Plan.  

In order to ban these items, the Government will work together with industry to create alternatives and will also propose excluding plastic straws for medical reasons. 

This announcement follows the newly-formed Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance, in which Prime Minister Theresa May has asked all Commonwealth countries to sign and take action on the plastic problem.  

To push this forward, the UK Government has dedicated a £61.4 million package to drive global research and support countries across the Commonwealth to stop plastic waste from entering the oceans.  

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world, which is why protecting the marine environment is central to our agenda at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. 

“The Commonwealth is a unique organisation, with a huge diversity of wildlife, environments and coastlines. Together we can effect real change so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it.” 

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “Single-use plastics are a scourge on our seas and lethal to our precious environment and wildlife so it is vital we act now. We have already banned harmful microbeads and cut plastic bag use, and now we want to take action on straws, stirrers and cotton buds to help protect our marine life.” 


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