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Thursday 19 April: Government outlines plans to ban the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds

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World leaders urged to join the fight on plastics with Government consultation on straws, cotton buds and stirrers ban

The Government has today outlined plans to ban the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds – a topic covered widely across media this morning, with Environment Secretary Michael Gove appearing on the Today programme, by-lining an article in The Times, and further coverage in the Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, Sky News, BBC News Online, Sun, The Guardian, Independent and the i.

A consultation will launch later this year and the Government will work with industry to develop alternatives and ensure there is sufficient time to adapt. It will also propose excluding plastic straws for medical reasons.

Single-use plastic items have a significant impact on our environment, both on land and in our seas and rivers. A recent study showed that 8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away each year in the UK.

The announcement comes as the Prime Minister has urged all Commonwealth countries to sign-up to the newly-formed Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance and take action on plastics at this week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London.

Today’s announcement is the latest move in the government crackdown on plastic, following the plastic microbeads ban hailed as one of the world’s strongest bans, the 5p plastic bag charge – which has led to 9 billion fewer bags distributed, and last month’s pledge to introduce a deposit return scheme, or DRS, for single use drinks containers, subject to consultation.

Prime Minister Theresa May said:

Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world, which is why protecting the marine environment is central to our agenda at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

The UK government is a world leader on this issue, and the British public have shown passion and energy embracing our plastic bag charge and microbead ban, and today we have put forward ambitious plans to further reduce plastic waste from straws, stirrers and cotton buds.

Alongside our domestic action, this week we are rallying Commonwealth countries to join us in the fight against marine plastics, with £61.4million funding for global research and to improve waste management in developing countries.

The Commonwealth is a unique organisation, with a huge diversity of wildlife, environments and coastlines. Together we can effect real change so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

Single-use plastics are a scourge on our seas and lethal to our precious environment and wildlife so it is vital we act now. We have already banned harmful microbeads and cut plastic bag use, and now we want to take action on straws, stirrers and cotton buds to help protect our marine life.

We’ve already seen a number of retailers, bars and restaurants stepping up to the plate and cutting plastic use, however it’s only through government, businesses and the public working together that we will protect our environment for the next generation – we all have a role to play in turning the tide on plastic.

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