It’s official: English businesses can no longer sell or supply single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, as part of efforts to reduce pollution.

Originally due to start in April, the ban commenced on October 1st, 2020 and arrived one month to the day after ministers confirmed the single-use plastic bag charge would be increased to 10p and would be extended to all retailers.

The sole exceptions to the ban apply to hospitals, bars and restaurants, which can provide plastic straws to people with disabilities or medical conditions that require them.

Environmentalists call for extension to other SUP

England’s population uses an estimated 4,7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1,8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds in total each year.

Environmental campaigners welcomed the ban, but called for an extension on further single-use items, seen as straws, stirrers and cotton buds make up but for a fraction of the plastic waste littering the environment.

Government ‘firmly committed’ to replace throwaway culture with reusable mentality

Environment Secretary George Eustice said the government was ‘firmly committed’ to tackling environmental ‘devastation’ caused by single-use plastics.

Countries such as Ireland and France were given as examples, to which the government gave other ‘building plans’, such as for a 5p deposit scheme to encourage recycling of single-use drinks containers, aside from the doubling of the charge on single-use bags from 5p to 10p (in effect from April 2021).

The government also plans to introduce a new world-leading tax on plastic packaging which does not meet a minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content from April 2022 to encourage greater use of recycled plastic and has vouched to commit to a ban on the export of polluting plastic waste to non-OECD countries.

Wales wants similar ban

As a further sign of adhesion to this reduction of plastic-use pledge, English authorities have also brought into question – in the days following October 1st – the initiative taken in January 2018 to ban cosmetics and personal care products containing microbeads made from plastic, which have caused serious damage to the marine environment over the years.

Despite this understandable climate, in which campaigners push for further measures, it seems as England’s example is catching on, as the Welsh government – aiming for a zero waste Wales by 2050 – is considering a similar set of rules, accompanied by a bottle deposit return scheme.