England bans plastic straws, drink stirrers, and cotton swabs

May 22, 2019 | Environment
Plastic straws: banned from the UK by 2020 | Photo: Creative Commons

Plastic straws, drink stirrers, and cotton swabs will be banned from sale and use in England by April 2020.

The British government hopes to put an end to the negative environmental impacts of the five billion plastic straws, 300 million drink stirrers, and two billion cotton swabs that are used every year in the country.

"It is a vital announcement to ban these items in England, and it's all because people keep speaking up for the ocean, for the beach, and for all of us," notes Ben Hewitt, director of campaigns and projects at Surfers Against Sewage.

"At last politicians are hearing what we've all been saying for years: the ocean is choking on plastic. We can't fall silent now. The ocean faces so many threats."

Surfers Against Sewage has just finished their biggest beach clean ever in the United Kingdom, with 45,000 people out recording what they found. All data were submitted to the government.

Every Problem Has a Solution

Plastic earbuds were the number one biggest offender in unbranded plastic pollution and are one of the 20 items that should never be flushed down the toilet.

The UK has been slowly, but steadily banning plastic from daily consumption habits - the plastic bag charge started just four years ago, and microbeads were banned last year.

Since then, British citizens have demanded more.

Plastic buds and stirrers will be banned from next year; straws on drink cartons will be out of the market by 2021.

There will be exemptions for people with medical conditions and disabilities who rely on straws, as they will be available over the counter in registered pharmacies.