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UK to ban all plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers in 2020


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We all the know the environmental impact of plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers. Last week, the UK government took steps to eradicate the dangers of plastic pollution when they announced the subsequent banning of these items.

Drinking straws

Image Credit: Bilderjet via Pixabay

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: "These items are often used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down, ending up in our seas and oceans and harming precious marine life.

“So today I am taking action to turn the tide on plastic pollution, and ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations.”
Plastic straws and their pollution have been up for debate for years now. According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, 'over 500 million plastic straws are used each day in the United States'. That's 182,000,000,000 a year. 

According to The Guardian, '300m plastic stirrers and close to 2bn cotton buds with plastic stems' are used each year in England.

We've all seen the heart-breaking video of a turtle having a plastic straw removed from its nose. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the polluting effects of such materials. Straws themselves 'made the top ten items picked up on beach clean ups'.

The reason why they are so damaging is the fact that they just don't degrade. Drink stirrers are just as damaging; they are also made from plastic.

Cotton Buds

Image Credit: Lars Plougmann via Flickr

Cotton buds are also a major problem. According to the Cotton Bud Project, "the physical structure of cotton buds enables them to bypass the filters of many waste water treatment works and be released to the sea".

"At sea plastic cotton buds can attract and concentrate background pollutants to toxic levels."

Parts of the cotton buds, just like other plastics in the sea are then often consumed by marine life.

However, for those with a 'medical need or disability', plastic straws are an essential. The government has announced that these 'will be available upon request'.

Lead Image: Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay

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