Starting April next year, don’t expect to receive a plastic straw with your drink if you’re traveling through England. Don’t expect to find plastic stirrers plastic stems on your cotton swabs either. They’re all officially banned starting next year.
The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs announced the ban Wednesday, but it’s been in the works for over a year. The country is the latest to take a stance against plastics. The European Union passed a similar ban last year, which will go into effect in 2021. Both did so, in large part, because of the impacts plastic has on ocean life.
“Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment,” Environment Secretary Michael Gove said in a statement. “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.”
The ban will go into effect in April 2020. Straws be replaced with paper or biodegradable versions where they’re needed, though establishments will still offer plastic straws to people with disabilities who may require straws to drink, but restaurants and stores won’t just give them out anymore. Leaders in England want to reduce the country’s contribution to the plastic crisis. Britons currently use 4.7 billion straws and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds a year, according to a government assessment.
This move comes at the heels of a nation-wide survey that found the public supports such a ban. More than 80 percent of respondents said to the hell with straws while another 90 percent was down to eliminate the use of plastic stirrers. The ban will help cut down on some of the most prevalent forms of pollution.
Straws were among the most common forms of plastic found during an international coastal clean up in 2017 in addition to bottles, grocery bags, and take out containers. That’s why places like England are making change. All these plastic items not only litter our oceans, they endanger the marine animals that live there. It’s sad stuff—and we’re responsible.