Cotton buds and straws could soon be banned in the UK to help cut plastic waste
Government ministers have announced a consultation on the possible ban of cotton buds and plastic straws, in a bid to cut plastic waste in the UK.
First suggested by Michael Gove earlier this year, the Environment Secretary will later lead the consultation into implementing a wide-scale ban of the harmful products. Recent estimates suggest the UK throws away 8.5 billion plastic straws every year.
Gove seemingly has support from prime minister Theresa May, too, who is ostensibly behind the policy, calling plastic waste “one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world”.
May has been quick to defend the UK’s efforts so far, calling Blighty a “world leader” on tackling plastic waste, pointing to decisive moves such as the ban on microbeads and the plastic bag charges. We’re also currently in talks to introduce a deposit return scheme for drinks containers in England, something that’s being lauded by environmentalists everywhere.
Many establishments have already started ridding themselves of plastic drinking straws; next time you order a gin and tonic and take heed of the pulpy paper straw in your drink, spare a happy thought for the landfills and oceans who will be spared the remnants of the UK’s time-honoured drinking habit.
Indeed, it’s not just pubs and bars that have taken the initiative: 60 UK music festivals, including household names like Bestival and Boomtown, are set to ban plastic straws at their events this summer. Rob Da Bank of Bestival told the BBC he was thrilled to be a trailblazer, saying “[we’re] leading the global change against unnecessary plastic”.
Nor is the wakeup call on plastic waste confined to the hospitality and entertainment industries; May will urge leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, opened by HRH Queen Elizabeth II no less, to follow suit in reconsidering their plastic expenditures.
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The proposed ban on plastic straws and cotton buds also comes hot on the heels of a new initiative joined by the UK, the Clean Oceans Alliance between the UK, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Ghana and Vanuatu, which has pledged to ban microbeads cosmetics and cut plastic bag use by 2021.
We’ll drink – sans plastic straw – to that.
Image: Horia Varlan, used under Creative Commons