The ban on single-use plastic straws and cotton buds finally comes into force in the UK on October 1st.
The measure, which was supposed to come into effect in April 2020, was held-off until today because of COVID-19 and lockdown, officials say. Starting October 1st, restaurants, coffee shops, supermarkets and other businesses, including manufacturers, will no longer be able to hand out or sell plastic straws and stirrers.
A much awaited ban
In England, people use an estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws a year, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds. While environmentalists welcome the ban, they say these items only amount to a fraction of the total consumption of single-use plastic in the world. The UK would have to be a lot more radical to cut down plastic pollution.
Over the past decade, plastic straws have become the international emblem of plastic pollution thanks to disturbing photos of sea turtles with straws up their nose popping up everywhere. It takes about 1,000 years for plastic to decompose in landfills. Plastic straws, which are light, often fly away from landfills and trash cans, ending up in our oceans. Sea animals end up eating them, thinking it is food.