Under new government plans to cut pollution, plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds could be banned within a year. Following the success of the ban on microbeads and the 5p charge on single-use plastic bags, the environmental secretary, Michael Gove is confident that this proposal will go ahead, effectively coming into force between October 2019 and October 2020.
According to statistics it is estimated that 4.7bn plastic straws, 316m plastic stirrers and 1.8bn plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used in the UK each year. And about 10% of cotton buds are flushed down toilets and can end up in waterways and oceans, costing local authorities millions to clean up.
Launching the consultation, Environment Secretary Michael 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 publics 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 announcement has been welcomed by Greenpeace UKs political adviser Sam Chetan Welsh who said: “Our societys addiction to throwaway plastic is fuelling a global environmental crisis that must be tackled. Ministers are doing the sensible thing by looking to ban single-use plastic items that can be easily replaced with better alternatives or that we can simply do without. But this should be just the start.
Here at Polyco Healthline, we were one of the early pioneers to create environmentally-friendly alternatives with products like biodegradable paper stems and cotton pads which were designed as an alternative to microbeads.
Today, we are happy to announce that we support the legislative changes and will continue to look for innovative ways to produce eco-friendly products.
Considering that there is now estimated to be 150m tonnes of plastic in the worlds oceans, with that figure set to treble by 2025 the government's new proposals couldn't come any sooner. One million birds and at least 100,000 sea mammals die annually from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.
The government is also looking at further ways to reduce avoidable waste and recycle more as part of its Resources and Waste Strategy to be published later this year.