Single-use plastic straws and cotton buds banned

Last updated at 07:15
Cotton budsGetty Images
Plastic cotton buds and straws will be banned from Thursday

Single-use plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers are banned from sale and distribution in England from Thursday 1 October.

The government's Department for Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) confirmed this new rule back in May 2019, and originally the deadline for banning the items was April 2020.

There were delays because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but now the ban is finally coming into place.

Businesses will be asked to switch to paper-based alternatives, or just remove the items altogether.

Plastic strawsGetty Images
A 2019 study found that more than 8 billion plastic straws pollute the world's beaches

Hospitals, bars, restaurants and cafes will still make plastic straws available for people with disabilities or other medical needs, which mean they need to use a plastic straw, when they ask.

Apart from that, businesses will not be able to sell or give away plastic straws, stirrers or cotton buds.

Plastic stirrers are the only things that will be totally banned.

What difference will this make?

Defra has estimated that five billion straws and 300 million stirrers are thrown in the bin every year.

The UK currently uses around 2 billion cotton buds every year too. A lot of retailers have already been slowly phasing out cotton buds with plastic stems for a few months now.

McDonald's, which provides nearly 2 million straws for customers every day, banned plastic straws last year and instead uses paper straws.

Plastic strawsGetty Images
Plastic straws are one of the worst items causing plastic pollution
Is this the end of cotton buds and straws forever?

No it's not - don't worry!

It's just the end of plastic ones. There are loads of eco-friendly and biodegradable cotton buds you can get in shops.

You can also buy silicone straws and metal ones too, which you can wash and reuse just like you wash cutlery.

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