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Plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds to be banned

Waste: Cotton buds PICTURE: ALAMY

PLASTIC straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds are to be banned in England from next year to tackle pollution.

Environment secretary Michael Gove confirmed the supply of the items will stop from April 2020 after ‘overwhelming’ public support for the measure.

Exemptions will allow those who need plastic straws for an illness or disability to buy them from pharmacies or request them in restaurants and pubs, and will let cotton buds be used for medical and scientific purposes.

More than 80 per cent of respondents in a public consultation backed a ban on plastic straws, 90 per cent wanted stirrers banned and 89 per cent supported getting rid of plastic cotton buds.

Mr Gove said: ‘Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment.

‘Today I am taking action to turn the tide on plastic pollution, and ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations.’

It is estimated that 4.7billion plastic straws, 316million plastic stirrers and 1.8billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used each year in England. There are an estimated 150million tons of plastic in the world’s oceans, and each year 1million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals die from eating and getting tangled in the waste.