Plastic straws set to be banned in England

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

Final straw: ministers have highlighted that 8.5bn plastic straws are thrown away in the UK every year
Final straw: ministers have highlighted that 8.5bn plastic straws are thrown away in the UK every year
Plastic straws could soon be banned from sale in England under a Government plan to protect rivers and oceans from the rising tide of plastic pollution.

The proposed move also includes plans to ban plastic drinking stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds from sale.

Announcing a consultation on a possible ban to be launched later this year, ministers highlighted that 8.5bn plastic straws are thrown away in the UK every year.

With Government officials set to work with the industry to develop alternative products, a ban on plastics will help the Government meet the requirements of a 25-year plan to eliminate avoidable plastic waste.

Prime Minister Theresa May used the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting – held in London between 16 and 20 April – to urge other leaders to “join the fight” against plastic waste.

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 microbeads ban and, today, we have put forward ambitious plans to further reduce plastic waste from straws, stirrers and cotton buds.

"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."

The news comes as 60 UK music festivals announced a ban on plastic straws at their events this summer.

Environment secretary Michael Gove, who will launch he consultation later this year, added: "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."

Overwhelming public support

British Institute of Innkeeping spokesperson Molly Davis commented: “We welcome the news that Government continues to recognise the devastating impact of single-use plastics on our environment. 

"As an industry, we have long been aware of the responsibility and indeed opportunity that we have to minimise this impact and have championed that cause in recent months with our campaign #thelaststraw.  

"Using alternative, biodegradable options or simply only giving out straws when they were requested was a simple step taken by licensees the length and breadth of the UK to show their commitment to the change that needs to happen.

"The swath of public support has been overwhelming and we are delighted to be moving this issue forward with the Unpack the Future of Hospitality Summit in London on the 10th​ May.

"Together with the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and British Hospitality Association (now joined together as UKHospitality), we are leading the charge to share best practices and create sustainable packaging options for businesses in the hospitality industry and beyond.”

 Director of public affairs at the BBPA , David Wilson, commented: “The pub sector has shown leadership in tackling the issue of plastics in response to growing consumer awareness. The BBPA is supporting an industry-wide campaign to cut the amount of single-use plastic being used in pubs.

"Voluntary measures are preferable to legislation and have already proved effective in changing behaviour.”

You can find more information on Unpack the Future of Hospitality, an event hosted on 10 May by the BII, ALMR and BHA, here​.

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