Within the next year, both cotton swabs, as well as plastic straws and drink stirrers, could potentially be gone completely, in an effort to cut down on plastic pollution.
There will be a consultation on the proposal which is scheduled to start today in the UK which will intake views from stakeholders in regards to banning the items being distributed.
The UK government wants to give businesses no choice but to use non-plastic alternatives. If successful in banning them, the restriction would happen between October 2019 and October 2020.
Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary of the United Kingdom, will credit the success of the five pence (or five cents,) single-use plastic bags — as it led to an 86 percent drop in use at major supermarkets.
Gove will also add the following, according to The Guardian.
“Our precious oceans and the wildlife within need urgent protection from the devastation throwaway plastic items can cause. I commend retailers, bars and restaurants that have already committed to removing plastic straws and stirrers, but we recognise we need to do more. Today we step up our efforts to turn the tide on plastic pollution and ensure we leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it.”
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website continues to explain the ban in more detail:
“A ban on the distribution and/or sale of plastic straws, plastic drinks stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds in England (subject to a consultation), was announced by the Prime Minister at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit held in April. These single-use plastics are associated with negative effects on the environment if they are littered or discarded incorrectly after their use. Not only do they damage terrestrial and marine life, there are costs associated with their clean-up and externality costs imposed on the tourism and fishing industries when they are incorrectly disposed of. This consultation aims to address the impact of plastic straws, plastic stemmed cotton buds and plastic drink stirrers on the environment.”
A few high street companies have already put into place reducing plastic consumption, with Starbucks planning to eliminate all plastic straws worldwide at its stores by 2020 and McDonald’s replacing all its plastic straws with paper ones in both the UK an Ireland.
The British multinational groceries and general merchandise retailer, Tesco, has started to demo recycling machines in the stores. The machines will pay customers the equivalent of 10 cents for each plastic bottle that is returned in an effort to encourage recycling.
The UK and ROI CEO of Tesco, Jason Tarry, shared a statement in regards to recycling machines:
“We are already committed to eliminating single-use plastic wherever we can and make recycling simpler for customers. Today is another step in that direction. However, we know that it is going to take retailers, manufacturers and government to work together to make progress. We would urge the government to move to a single, nationwide approach to waste collection that makes it much easier for people to recycle.”
According to UNILAD, the world’s oceans are estimated to hold over 150 million tons of plastic.
So it is up to us to be responsible and use less plastic to help reduce the effects it has on the environment.
We can do it!
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