PLASTIC straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds will be banned from April next year, Michael Gove has confirmed.
But what does it mean for you? And which companies have already banned plastic straws? Here’s what we know so far…
PA:Press Association Straws and cotton buds could be banned as Theresa May targets plastic pollution
What is the UK plastic straw ban?
Around 8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away each year, potentially contributing to the over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans.
With that in mind, Theresa May is to unveil a sweeping ban on a number of products.
She urged Commonwealth leaders gathered in London to follow the UK’s example.
A consultation will start later in 2018 and a ban could be enforced as early as next year.
It means single-use plastics – like straws – could no longer be available in pubs and restaurants.
Downing Street has also not ruled out inflicting extra costs on consumers with the ban, as makers are forced to come up with more expensive wood or paper alternatives.
The move also follows new rules introduced two years ago forcing customers to pay a 5p charge for plastic bags, which drastically reduced the number of bags being used.
It is estimated that 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used each year in England.
Around ten per cent of cotton buds are flushed down toilets, often ending up in waterways and oceans, the Government said.
Getty Images – Getty Environment Secretary Michael Gove is to bring his ban on single use plastic products forward from April next year
What did Michael Gove announce?
The Environment Secretary revealed that eight in ten responses from the public back a ban on the sale of plastic straws, nine in ten supported a ban on drink stirrers and cotton buds.
They will be banned in England as part of Mr Gove’s mission to tackle pollution and protect the environment.
Exemptions will allow those who need to use plastic straws for medical reasons or a disability to buy them from registered pharmacies or request them in restaurants, pubs and bars, and the use of plastic-stemmed cotton buds for medical and scientific purposes.
Food and drink outlets will not be able to display plastic straws or automatically hand them out.
The Government’s response to the consultation, published on Wednesday, reveals that more than 80 per cent of respondents back a ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws, 90 per cent a ban on drinks stirrers, and 89 per cent a ban on cotton buds.
Corbis A total of 8.5bn plastic straws alone are thrown away each year, littering green spaces as well as Britain’s rivers and seas
What’s Theresa May said about the ban?
Theresa May dubbed plastic waste as “one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world” and added that the UK was taking a lead in tackling the problem.
She said: “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 today we have put forward ambitious plans to further reduce plastic waste from straws, stirrers and cotton buds.
“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.”
PA:Press Association Mrs May dubbed the single use plastic items one of “the greatest environmental challenges facing the world”
Which companies are banning plastic straws?
McDonald’s replaced plastic straws with paper ones in all its UK and Ireland restaurants in September 2018.
The restaurant chain uses 1.8m straws a day in the UK.
“Reflecting the broader public debate, our customers told us they wanted to see a move on straws,” the firm said.This decision came after a successful trial in selected restaurants earlier this year. The full global move to paper straws will be completed next year.
Wetherspoon’s already ditched plastic straws across its 900 pubs in the UK and Ireland.
Since January 2018, all of the company’s pubs use biodegradable paper straws instead.
Wagamama also stopped providing them to customers across its 128 UK restaurants.
It’s now only handing them out on request or with juices that need stirring.
Costa Coffee and sandwich chain Pret A Manger also took action against plastic.
Both said they will be replacing their plastic straws with alternatives in 2018.
From May this year, straws have been kept behind the counter and are only given out when a customer asks for it.
Companies that have or are set to ditch the plastic
McDonalds (September 2018)
Pizza Express (Summer 2018)
Wagamama (Earth Day – April 22, 2018)
Hyatt (On request only from December 2018)
American Airlines (July 2018)
Alaska Airlines (phaseout)
Bon Appetit (September 2018)
Four Season hotel group (April 2018)
All Bar One (mid-2017)
Hilton Hotels (end of 2018)
JD Wetherspoons (beginning of 2018)
Pret a Manger (aims to be totally plastic free by 2025)
Iceland supermarket (aims to be totally plastic free by 2023)
OJO Images More and more restaurants and shops are banning plastic straws
What has the EU said about banning plastic?
Brussels plans to ban a number of plastic items, include straw, plates and single-use cutlery by 2021.
The European Commission’s proposed ban will cover ten products that along with discarded plastic fishing gear account for 70 per cent of all marine litter.
The initiative, announced on May 28, 2018, will prohibit items the commission believes could be replaced with sustainable materials.
It is estimated that Europe generates 25.8m tonnes of plastic waste annually, of which less than 30 per cent is recycled, 31 per cent ends up in landfills and 39 per cent is incinerated.
What is the UK plastic straw ban, which companies have banned them