Rachel has welcomed the Government’s plans to ban plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds in England.

Following overwhelming public support for the move in a consultation, the ban will come into force in April 2020. The ban will include exemptions to ensure that those with medical needs or a disability are able to continue to access plastic straws.

The public consultation found more than 80% of respondents back a ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws, 90% a ban on drinks stirrers, and 89% a ban on cotton buds.

There are instances where using plastic straws is necessary for medical reasons and the government will ensure that those who need to use plastic straws for medical reasons can still access them. Registered pharmacies will be allowed to sell plastic straws over the counter or online. Catering establishments such as restaurants, pubs and bars will not be able to display plastic straws or automatically hand them out, but they will be able to provide them on request. The Government believes this strikes the right balance between reducing environmental impact while protecting the rights of people with medical conditions and disabilities.

In England, it is estimated that annually we use 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds. An estimated 10% of cotton buds are flushed down toilets and can end up in waterways and oceans.

Rachel said:

“Rightly there is a lot of attention on the environment right now and what more we can do to protect it for future generations.

“We must end the scourge of plastic pollution and protect our environment from items which 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, which is why I welcome this ban.”