Cotton buds, drinking straws and stirrers could be banned from sale in England as soon as next year it has been announced this week. Speaking at the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit, Theresa May launched the plan as the next phase of the campaign to reduce the pollution of the world’s rivers and oceans. Speaking at the Commonwealth summit, May is hoping to encourage more countries to act on the global issue of single use plastics entering waterways causing damage to wildlife and habitats. 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 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.”
A consultation on the ban will begin later this year and could be enforced as soon as 2019, building on the consultation for a Deposit Return Scheme and the Scottish government’s consultation on the banning of the manufacture and sale of cotton buds. Many UK chains and independent coffee shops and bars have already stopped offering plastic straws and stirrers, as public awareness and concern grows over the impact of plastic waste on the environment.
Cotton buds have been singled out in the war on plastics, with photographer Justin Hofman’s series of a seahorse holding onto a bud nominated for the 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition highlighting the problem. It’s said that many people flush cotton buds down the toilet, rather than disposing of them properly which is making this particular product such a scourge on marine life. The Marine Conservation Society has repeatedly named cotton buds as one of the most prevalent items of litter on UK beaches.