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UK Bans Plastic Straws
News Bytes 10/7/2020 28 Comments

A ban on plastic straws, drink stirrers, and plastic-stemmed cotton swabs took effect last week in England. With few exceptions, retailers cannot sell or supply the disposable items in their shops or restaurants. The edict comes after a six-month delay caused by handling the coronavirus pandemic.

Banning plastics has long been debated as part of efforts to cut down on pollution from single-use plastics. (See “UK Mulls Banning Plastic Straws.”) The UK ban was supposed to take effect in April, but the law was put on hold when the country went into a lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The government has estimated that people in England use 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers, and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton swabs every year.

Environmental activists welcomed the move but said it did not go far enough.

Tatiana Lujan, plastics lawyer at environmental law charity ClientEarth, says, “These items form only a tiny fraction of single-use plastics, which litter our environment and release toxic substances and greenhouse gas emissions when incinerated—and even when they’re made.”

She also believes that “other countries like Ireland and France have shown far more ambition than the UK” when it comes to banning plastic waste. Indeed, Scotland has already outlawed the plastic goods, and Wales and Northern Ireland have promised to ban them.

There are some exceptions to the ban. Some people need to use plastics for physical or medical reasons. The ban allows hospitals and restaurants to provide plastic straws to people with certain disabilities or medical conditions. (For more information on why plastic straws may be necessary for some disabled persons, see “Jumping on the Plastic Ban Wagon.”)

Several UK restaurants stopped using plastics on their own before the ban went into effect. These include Costa Coffee, McDonald’s (UK), and Nando’s (a Portuguese-African restaurant).

UK environmental charity worker Tatiana Lujan calls cotton swabs, stirrers, and straws “some of the most pointless plastics out there,” adding that the ban was “a no-brainer.”

What are your thoughts about banning plastic items for some people?

(Plastic drinking straws. A ban on plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton swab stems came into force in England on Thursday October 1, 2020, after a six-month delay. AP Photo/Barbara Woike)

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Most recent comments

I seriously don't know what

I seriously don't know what to think.

I have heard though that

I have heard though that plastics are unhealthy.

Ok, this is honestly the

Ok, this is honestly the dumbest thing. I live just 40 minutes out of Gainseville, Florida, and they banned plastic straws last year, and it is IMPOSSIBLE to use only one paper straw without it disintergrating in 20 minutes. Also, it only makes up like, 0.001% of the waste that goes into the oceans. Maybe the UK should do it, but not America. It's really useless, and we should focus on stuff that actually harms the oceans a little bit more that a hundredth of a percent.

3rd comment

I think that it is a good idea. Plastic IS unhealthy, and a big pollutant. I wish the USA would come up with something that smart. But it seems to me we just keep using more and more disposable things.

@Carys M

Yes, but at least it is a start. and we actually don't use straws that much anyway, but we did purchase some metal ones, which you can wash and reuse! Cool idea, right?

Good Alternatives?

I really don’t see any good alternative to plastic, besides metal, and during COVID, I don’t want reusable metal straws in restaurants.

Good Alternatives?

I really don’t see any good alternative to plastic, besides metal, and during COVID, I don’t want reusable metal straws in restaurants.

@Raymond M

I know. I didn't mean in restaurants, just at home! Sorry for the confusion!

Riley and Raymond

Riley, yes it's a start, but we were doing things BEFORE this craze for plastic straws that were really helping. But if people stop caring about the stuff that actually WOULD really help the enviroment, things could just get worse. Also yeah we have metal straws as well, we carry them with us when we go to Gainseville so we don't have to have wet paper in our mouths at restaurants then LOL. Raymond yes there is really no good alternative unless everybody buys metal straws for themselves, but I doubt that will happen.

this is Mylee

I think it is a good idea ! I mean Plastic harms sea animals . There was a turtle who got a straw stuck in his nose . But it could harm companies so i don't know. Is anyone going to watch the VP debate tonight.


I probably won't, my family prefers reading articles than watching the debates, because we'll just be yelling over each other at the tv LOL.

Metal Straws

I probably need to start carrying around some metal straws.


PLASTIC STRAWS, we go to disney, and It is like there is a black market for plastic straws. We brought our own, and it is only mom/dad that get to use em, paper is UGH, use metal if you are going to do this, like silverware.

Metal straws

I feel like metal straws would scrape the top of your mouth, do they? Maybe people don't NEED straws (except for disabled people).

My family has stainless steel

My family has stainless steel straws and they really don't hurt...

I love stainless steel straws

I love stainless steel straws! They conduct cold really well, and when we use them for smoothies, they get super cold. Which is a good thing.

Have they turned into Vsco

Have they turned into Vsco girls and boys?

As good metal straws are,

As good metal straws are, they can be dangerous. My dad is a anesthesiologist, and did surgery on a girl who was drinking with a metal straw and she put it farther in her mouth, and it went through the top of her mouth and to her brain. ( sorry if a creeped anyone out) My dad is a doctor, my brother is a nurse, and my sister is phlebotomist.


I have a teacher who was a nurse, and she once had a 10 year old girl come in with a bean growing in her nasal cavity, when they pulled it out it took some tissue and was 3 ft long. So basicly sticking ANYTHING in you head irrasponsibly can lead to injury. Sorry if that was gross.

@ruby D

ummmmmm??? okay that's great and i definetely agree with cary s about pretty much everything she??? said (sorry if ur a boy).

I watched part of the VP

I watched part of the VP debate and I don't like Ms. Harris's attitude towards Mr. Pence. She was very condescending towards him.

What about the big things?

Yeah I agree that banning plastic straws is good but what about banning huge containers that are plastic that don’t NEED to be plastic. The supermarket we go to (Sainsbury’s) bake stuff to and then the sell them in these huge plastic containers that are way bigger than they need to be and use it for everything - cinnamon rolls, cookies. And I’m thinking if they ban plastic straws which are so small they should have the common sense to ban plastic unreusable ( if that’s even a word prob isn’t but never mind..) containers and use cardboard or something and it would be even better if it was reusable!

And plus paper straws at like McDonalds are so disgusting. You end up eating them. Yuck!

I agree it is a start tho.

I agree it is a start tho.

I don't really have an opinion about the straws

@ Mylee, I watched the VP debate and they were a lot more respectful of each other than the Presidential debate. Also I liked Pence's line, "You are entitiled to your opinion, but your opinion is not a fact." He said it a couple times and it was kinda funny.

Did anyone notice that the

Did anyone notice that the speaker gave Ms. Harris more time than Mr. Pence? And than the way Ms. Harris looked and smiled at him..... it looked like she was possessed.

To Above

Yes! That made me so mad! (Ok,maybe more like annoyed) that that smile.....
I think Mr. Pence was very nice and polite and presidential.
Now about the article...
Its a wast of time and money, paper straws are horrible! And re usable ones are so hard to clean!


I am OK with banning plastic straws but I hope they don't start using paper ones, they are AWFUL. But metal ones are really good.

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