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Ban planned for plastic straws, buds and strirrers

The Government is to ban the distribution and sale of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds in England.

Environment secretary Michael Gove has launched a consultation on how, rather than whether, the ban would be enforced.

He said some 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds were used each year even though alternatives were readily available.

The Government intends to ban on their distribution and sale, starting in October 2019 depending on views on timing expressed in the consultation.

There would be exceptions where plastic straws were needed for medical or accessibility reasons.

Gove said: “I commend retailers, bars and restaurants that have already committed to removing plastic straws and stirrers.

“But we recognise we need to do more. Today we step up our efforts to turn the tide on plastic pollution and ensure we leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it.”

David Palmer-Jones, chief executive of Suez Recycling and Recovery UK, said the proposed ban marked “the end of a disposable culture that ends up harming us all with waste and pollution, and the start of a revolution towards a circular, sustainable economy”.

He predicted that consumers would be willing to support it in the same way that the plastic bag charge had changed behaviour.

Palmer-Jones said: “We now need to move to extended producer responsibility schemes to meet the overwhelming public appetite to reduce litter and environmental pollution, and help us to reuse and recycle more of what we consume.

“Next, we need an enlightened approach to increasing the financial burden placed on the use of virgin materials, while reducing that burden for higher recycled content.”

Greenpeace UK added its support, with political adviser Sam Chetan Welsh saying: “Ministers are doing the sensible thing by looking to ban single-use plastic items that can be replaced easily with better alternatives or that we can simply do without.”

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, which represents the hotel and catering industries, said: “We wholeheartedly welcome this consultation on an issue of vital importance and one which hospitality has already taken significant action.”

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