We are thrilled to hear cotton buds, plastic straws and other single-used plastics could be banned from sale in England next year. Theresa May is expected to make the announcement later today at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting, whilst encouraging these leaders to follow suit.
Ministers have highlighted that 8.5bn straws have been thrown away in the UK every year. Michael Gove first trialled the idea of banning straws in February, and is leading the consultation on the possible ban. “We’re going to consult on what the best way is in order to get rid of straws, get rid of stirrers and also get rid of plastic stemmed cotton buds that we use so many of,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Cotton buds are a worrying and less discussed source of plastic pollution. Many people flush these down the toilet and are unaware these do not break down. In the River Thames, one study showed that the most contaminated sites with plastic were in the vicinity of sewage works. Sanitary items, along with wet wipes and cotton bud sticks are more commonly being found on UK beaches.
We hope to hear more positive news following the meeting today. Stay tuned!