Plastic straws: Government confirms ban in England

Last updated at 06:10
Plastic-straws.Jenjira Indon

The government has confirmed a ban on plastic straws, drinks stirrers, and plastic cotton buds in England from 2020.

Its after over 80% of people voted in support of a ban on the sale of plastic straws in a public consultation.

What is wrong with plastic straws?
Plastic straws on a beachGetty Images/ Milos Bicanski
If plastic straws ends up on the beach or in the sea they can cause big problems for wildlife

We use an estimated 8.5 billion plastic straws every year in the UK.

They're among the top 10 items found in beach clean-ups.

Most straws are made from plastics called polypropylene and polystyrene which, unless recycled, take hundreds of years to decompose and are only used for a very short time.

In England around 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used and many of these are flushed down toilets sometimes ending up in the ocean.

It is estimated there are over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world's oceans and every year one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste, so it's a big problem!

Why do some people need plastic straws?
Tanni Grey ThompsonAFP
Tanni Grey-Thompson has said that paper or glass alternatives are not safe for people who are disabled

The government ban of plastic straws will not apply to people with medical needs or disabilities.

Some disabled people need plastic straws to drink and paper or glass alternatives are just not safe.

Registered pharmacies will be allowed to sell plastic straws over the counter or online.

Restaurants, cafes and bars will not be able to display plastic straws or automatically hand them out, but they will be able to provide them on request.

The government says this will reduce environmental impact while protecting the rights of people with medical conditions and disabilities.

What are the alternatives?
Glass straws being madeGetty Images/ VW Pics
Some people have been bought glass straws like these which they can use again and again

Many restaurants and food outlets have already replaced their plastic straws with paper ones. McDonalds took this step last year. and there have been an increase in companies making paper straws to keep up with demand.

There are also glass, metal or bamboo straws which can be used again and again.

Environmental campaigners say if you don't need a straw it's best not to use one at all.

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