UK considers plastic straw ban

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away every year in the UK. Pic:Getty/jon11
8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away every year in the UK. Pic:Getty/jon11
The UK government has announced plans to end sales of plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds, encouraging other Commonwealth countries to take similar steps to cut down on plastic waste.

A consultation on the plans will be launched later this year.

The proposed ban is part of the government’s wider waste strategy, which will include a call for evidence on how taxes​ could be used to address waste from single use plastics.

‘Significant impact’

Announced today at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit, the plastic straw ban would be the latest move in the government’s ‘crackdown on plastic’.

“Single-use plastic items such as straws, stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds have a significant impact on our environment, both on land and in our seas and rivers when they are either littered or discarded incorrectly after use – with a recent study showing 8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away each year in the UK,” ​says a statement from the government.

Pernod Ricard​, Diageo, Bacardi​ and the Scotch Whisky Association​ have all announced plans to remove non-biodegradable straws and stirrers from their activities.

In 2015 the UK introduced a 5p charge for single-use plastic carrier bags, and earlier this year a ban on the use of microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products came into effect.

Last month the government also announced plans for a deposit return scheme​ for single use plastic containers (including plastic, glass and metal), subject to consultation later this year.

Commonwealth countries are also being encouraged to sign up to the new Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance. 

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