What Could Come of the Single Use Plastics Ban?

Disposable Plastic Cups and Straws

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. 

At this early stage it’s not clear if it will be just the sale of these single use items that will be banned in England, or if the consultation will follow Scotland’s lead to ban the manufacture as well. The three items highlighted by May (straws, stirrers and cotton buds) are likely to be joined by more products, France has recently banned plastic carrier bags and from 2020 disposable plastic cutlery and plates will also be banned. 

It’s not yet clear how the ban will be enforced, or if recycled plastic products will be affected. Whilst cotton buds can easily be made from paper, as some manufacturers already do, for many single use products plastic is still the best material to use. If recycling rates can improve, as well as the infrastructure to support that improvement, more items being made from post-consumer recyclable materials would be a great step in the right direction – and would require far less development than a new material, getting the product to market far quicker. 

Are you looking for a product made from PCR? Get in touch! Call 01692 501020 or email sales@coda-plastics.co.uk Our 'off the shelf' standard packaging range as well as custom orders are available in recycled materials, talk to one of our team to see how we can help you. 

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