Plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds could be banned from sale in England under plans being set out by Prime Minister Theresa May. A consultation on banning the disposable plastic products will launch later this year in an effort to cut the amount of waste which ends up in rivers and oceans.
The Prime Minister urged Commonwealth leaders gathered in London to follow the UK’s example in tackling the problem of plastic pollution which she said was “one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world.”
Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“The UK Government is a world leader on this issue, and the British public have shown passion and energy embracing our plastic bag charge and microbead ban, and today we have put forward ambitious plans to further reduce plastic waste from straws, stirrers and cotton buds. Alongside our domestic action, this week we are rallying Commonwealth countries to join us in the fight against marine plastics, with £61.4 million funding for global research and to improve waste management in developing countries. 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.”
Welcoming the announcement Sandy Luk, MCS CEO, said:
“It is great news. But it needs to be part of a whole raft of long-term measures to tackle this huge problem, like levies on other avoidable single use plastic items, a bottle deposit return scheme and fundamental change to the whole way that we produce, use and consume plastics. In the consultations coming up over the next few months it will be key that the Government considers social and environment benefits as well as business costs if we are to have real progress.”
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said it is “vital we act now” to eliminate straws from everyday use – with 8.5 billion thrown away every year contributing to the over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans. The latest MCS Great British Beach Clean revealed rising levels of throwaway food and drink utensils including cutlery, trays and straws – up almost a quarter (23%) in a year.
Subject to the consultation, the Government is prepared to ban the sale of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds in England. Officials will work with industry to develop alternatives and ensure there is sufficient time to adapt, and will also propose excluding plastic straws used for medical reasons.
The UK Government is already consulting on a throwaway plastic tax. The public have until May 18th to take part. You can show your support here.
For more information, please visit the Marine Conservation Society website.