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CPRE reaction to ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds

The Environment Secretary Michael Gove has today (22 May) announced a ban on plastic straws, drinks stirrers and plastic stemmed cotton buds in England, which will come into force in April 2020.

CPRE welcomes the ban but criticises the government’s failure to ban these single-use items altogether. The countryside charity warns that by allowing manufacturers to simply use alternative materials for these unnecessary single-use products, without any charges or taxes to drive a reduction in their use, will do little to prevent their littering and does not encourage a move to a circular economy.

Exemptions are in place for the use of plastic straws for people with medical conditions and disabilities, and plastic-stemmed cotton buds can still be used for medical and scientific purposes, where these are often the only practical option. CPRE supports these exceptions.

Maddy Haughton-Boakes, litter campaigner at the CPRE, said:

‘While it is fantastic news that the government has taken such decisive action over plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, we are deeply disappointed that Michael Gove hasn’t taken this opportunity to ban these unnecessary items all together, whatever the material. It’s simply not good enough to switch to so-called “alternatives”, when single-use items should be phased out altogether.

‘Without an outright ban, manufacturers will continue to produce them in other “less harmful” materials, while our countryside and environment continues to face the devastating consequences of the vast amounts of waste they create.’

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