The U.K. government will ban plastic straws, drinks stirrers, and plastic stemmed cotton buds from April 2020 in England to slash plastic waste, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said on Wednesday.
The ban, which is to ensure a better environment for future generations, will be exempt for people with medical needs or a disability so they can continue to access plastic straws.
Accordingly, registered pharmacies will be allowed to sell plastic straws over the counter or online.
The decision came after an open consultation that revealed over 80% of respondents backed a ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws, while 90% supported a ban on drinks stirrers, and 89% endorsed a ban on cotton buds.
In England, it is estimated that annually 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs data.
An estimated 10% of cotton buds are flushed down toilets and can end up in waterways and oceans, data showed.
By Zeynep Beyza Kilic