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Ban on plastic straws and stirrers

Plastic straws and drinks stirrers are to be banned in England from April next year.

Environment secretary Michael Gove has today confirmed the ban following overwhelming public support.

The government’s response to the consultation reveals over 80% of respondents back a ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws, rising to 90% when it comes to stirrers.

Catering establishments will only be able to hand out plastic straws on request to those customers with medical needs or a disability.

In England, it is estimated that annually we use 4.7 billion plastic straws and 316 million plastic stirrers.

Environment secretary Michael Gove said: “Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment. These items are often used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down, ending up in our seas and oceans and harming precious marine life.

“So today I am taking action to turn the tide on plastic pollution, and ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations.”

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.

The government has recently announced a range of measures to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste including a consultation on introducing a deposit return scheme to drive-up the recycling of drinks bottles and cans.

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