England’s ban on single-use plastic straws and other disposable plastic items went into effect Thursday, APA reports citing Sputnik.
The policy, initially set to go into force in April, was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the ban, businesses cannot legally sell or supply plastic straws, stirrers or cotton buds, the BBC reported.
However, people with medical conditions or disabilities may still be provided plastic straws by bars, restaurants and hospitals, if necessary.
According to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the UK uses an estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds every year.
In addition, around 10% of cotton buds used in the UK are flushed down toilets and can end up in bodies of water.
“The ban on straws, stirrers and cotton buds is just the next step in our battle against plastic pollution and our pledge to protect our ocean and the environment for future generations,” UK Environment Secretary George Eustice told Sky News this week.
“We are already a world leader in this global effort. Our five-pence charge on single-use plastic bags has successfully cut sales by 95% in the main supermarkets, we have banned microbeads, and we are building plans for a deposit return scheme to drive up the recycling of single-use drinks containers,” Eustice added.
Some US cities, including Seattle and Washington, DC, have also banned single-use plastic straws. Seattle enacted its ban in 2018, while the US capital followed suit in 2019.