Pubs can still give plastic straws to customers who ask

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Single-use plastics: pubs can still give plastic straws to customers who ask but cannot promote their use
Single-use plastics: pubs can still give plastic straws to customers who ask but cannot promote their use

Related tags Plastic Plastic straws Legislation Health and safety Environment

Pubs are exempt from a fresh ban on single use straws and still allowed to hand out straws to customers, but only if they ask.

From today (Thursday 1 October 2020) there are new laws on supplying and selling single-use plastic. 

Several types of businesses – including manufacturers and retailers – must not sell single-use plastic straws and cotton buds to end-users in England. They must also not sell plastic drink stirrers to either end-users or businesses.

However, pubs should accommodate customers with accessibility needs who require the use of a straw.

Pubs and clubs can supply single-use plastic straws with food and drink “for immediate consumption”.

Hide straws

They must make sure customers cannot see where straws are kept and are not able to help themselves to them either.

Straws must also only be handed to customers who request them and should not be offered to punters either verbally or in writing.

Drink stirrers should not be supplied to customers unless they were bought before 1 October 2020. In that case, leftover single-use drink stirrers can be supplied until 1 April 2021.

Local authorities will set fines for breaches of this legislation.

The law was set to come into effect in April 2020 but was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

When the exemption was announced​, the pub sector said the laws would mean it could comfortably continue its work in reducing waste plastic.

Pubs supportive

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, said: “We fully support the Government’s objective to drastically reduce unnecessary single-use plastics.

“We are pleased that the Government has recognised the genuine need of some of our customers, with today’s announcement exempting hospitality venues, by allowing straws for customers upon request, which is a practice that the sector was rapidly implementing or moving towards.

“The hospitality sector has voluntarily made significant progress in reducing the availability and use of plastic straws and stirrers, motivated both by a moral duty and our customers’ environmental concerns.”

It followed campaigns such as The Last Straw campaign, which was collectively launched​ by UKHospitality (UKH), the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the British Institute of Innkeeping and The Morning Advertiser in January 2018.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Single-use plastics cause real devastation to the environment and this government is firmly committed to tackling this issue head on.”

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