Environment Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed a ban on plastic straws, drinks-stirrers and plastic stemmed cotton buds in England, following overwhelming public support for the move.
Following an open consultation, a ban on the supply of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds will come into force in April 2020.
The ban will include exemptions to ensure that those with medical needs or a disability are able to continue to access plastic straws.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) reports that in England we are estimated to use 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds.
An estimated 10% of cotton buds are flushed down toilets and can end up in waterways and oceans.
Even though non-plastic alternatives are readily available, it is estimated that 95% of straws are still plastic.
Cleaning up the effects of littering costs local government millions of pounds every year, with costs also imposed on the tourism and fishing industries, and the effect of plastic pollution worrying 89% of people.
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.
A recent report estimates that plastic in the sea is set to treble by 2025.
The group started working on Plastic Free Chester November 2017, after Dr Christian Dunn, now an active member came up with the idea over a chat in The Countess of Chester Park.
Our Coordinator Helen Tandy, who had been personally trying to reduce her own plastic footprint, saw Christians launch tweet by sheer chance. With the energy of a larger team behind the cause, the group were the first Straw Free City which was declared only three months after the original inception of the campaign, on the 8th March.
Does this go far enough?
The European parliament have actually already voted to ban single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers as part laws against plastic waste, this comes into force by 2021. The UK will have to follow these if it took part in and extended the Brexit transition period because of delays in finding a new arrangement with the EU.
So in comparison to what we would have had remaining in the EU, the declaration in England falls short of where we need to be, so more to do.. heads down for more campaigning, litter picks and hopefully big business will take the lead instead.