The ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds has come into force today, 1 October 2020.
It is estimated that we use 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers, and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds in England every year, many of which find their way into our ocean. By banning the supply of these items, we can further protect our precious marine wildlife and move one step closer to our ambition of eliminating all avoidable plastic waste as set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan.
From today, it is illegal for businesses to supply plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds to customers. There are exemptions in place to protect disabled people and those with medical conditions who require plastic straws, and to allow cotton-buds to continue to be used for forensic and scientific purposes. Businesses will also have time to adapt to these changes, and may continue to supply stock acquired before 1 October for six months.
This is just part of our strategy to eliminate the scourge of plastics blighting our seas and landscapes. Other key government actions on plastics include a world-leading ban on microbeads, consulting on introducing a deposit return scheme to drive up the recycling of single-use drinks containers, and committing to a ban on the export of polluting plastic waste to non-OECD countries. As announced recently, the 5p charge on single-use bags will be increased to 10p and extended to all retailers from April 2021.
From April 2022 the government will also introduce a new world-leading tax on plastic packaging which does not meet a minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content, to encourage greater use of recycled plastic.