Britain’s primary environmental agency announced that beginning Thursday a ban on all “single-use” beverage straws is in effect, making it illegal for businesses to sell or supply them to individual customers.
The ban was passed and set to take effect in April, but the COVID-19 pandemic prompted law makers to postpone its implementation so as to not impose a further burden on businesses.
A statement Thursday from Britain’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs says the ban includes plastic straws, stirrers and cotton swabs.
In a statement on its official web site, the agency says it is estimated Britain uses 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers, and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton swabs annually, many of which find their way into the ocean.
In the statement, Britain’s Environment Secretary George Eustice said single-use plastics cause “real devastation to the environment” and the government is firmly committed to tackling the issue.
He said the ban on straws, stirrers and cotton swabs is just the next step in “our battle against plastic pollution and our pledge to protect our ocean and the environment for future generations.”
Exemptions to the ban include disabled persons or those who need them for medical purposes. Some catering businesses also will be allowed to use plastic straws or stirrers in certain circumstances, and businesses may sell some of the banned items to other businesses.