England’s Ban on Plastic Stirrers, Straws Takes Effect

There are exemptions for people with disabilities or certain medical conditions.

October 02, 2020

LONDON—To reduce plastic pollution, England has banned plastic straws and stirrers effective yesterday, CBNC reports. The ban also includes plastic cotton buds but includes exemptions for people with disabilities and certain medical conditions.

The government estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws and 316 million plastic stirrers are used—and thrown away—in Britain annually. Many bars and restaurants had already switched to paper straws and biodegradable stirrers.

The rules had been scheduled to begin in April, but officials changed the deadline because of the coronavirus pandemic and “disruption to businesses.” In August, the government announced it would double the charge for single-use plastic bags to 10 pence (about 13 cents) starting in April 2021.

The measures come as more businesses move to lower their use of plastic. For example, the Lego Group said it would slowly eliminate single-use plastic bags in products by 2025, and it will run a pilot program of recyclable paper bags in 2021. Last October, Unilever announced it would decrease its use of virgin plastic by half by 2025.

Meanwhile, in the United States, a group of retailers wants to find an alternative to single-use plastic bags. The Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, founded by Target, Walmart and CVS Health, wants to identify, test and implement alternatives to plastic bags used at retail.

On Tuesday, the New Jersey Assembly and Senate also passed a bill that would ban film plastic bags, polystyrene food containers and other products such as plates, cups, food trays and utensils. The bill is the most wide-ranging in the U.S.