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It’s the final straw… for plastic straws in England

Earlier this month a ban on single use drinking plastic straws and stirrers, and cotton buds came into force across England.

This legislation, which was originally planned for April but delayed due to COVID-19, now makes it illegal for businesses to sell or supply these items. There are, of course, certain exemptions for hospitals, restaurants or bars which are still able to supply these items to people if they have a medical need or disability.

A crackdown on single use plastics has long been on the government’s agenda, as it is thought that people in England use an estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic cotton buds every year.

At Casepak we welcome the discouragement of single use plastics in favour of more environmentally friendly, reusable options – we’ve all seen the devastation single use plastics have on our natural habitats and wildlife. There are much more sustainable options available, such as wooden stirrers, cardboard or reusable metal straws and cardboard-stemmed cotton buds – all of which are readily available and popular with consumers.

Indeed, the Welsh government has announced it is also considering a similar ban on these types of plastics.

Whilst this is a great step to cut out unnecessary plastics, it is important to remind people to recycle the plastics that CAN be re-processed into other items, as there is still a market for this material.

Taking care of material before it enters the recycling stream should also be a priority. Plastics that are clean, contaminant-free and dry before they are placed in the recycling bin have a much higher chance of going on to be re-purposed into new items, which in turn closes the recycling loop.