16 June 2020 by James Langley

Plastic straw ban approved by parliament

The House of Commons yesterday (15 June) approved legislation to ban the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds in England.

The regulations were originally laid in parliament on 3 March (see letsrecycle.com story), and were due to be introduced in April before they were suspended to “reduce the burden placed on industry”. The legislation takes into account the new October implementation date.

Legislation to ban the supply of plastic straws entered parliament on 3 March

Speaking in the House of Commons, recycling minister Rebecca Pow said: “In order for us to leave the environment in a better state than we found it for the next generation, it is essential that we have the right legislation in place that will have an impact on our effect on the natural world.

“These measures are an important part of our wider strategy to tackle plastic pollution.

“Delaying regulations was only a temporary measure in response to the crisis. Our commitment to turning the tide on the widespread use of single-use plastics is as strong as ever, and we seek to limit our impact on the natural environment.”

Opposition

Despite not opposing the legislation, the shadow minister for natural environment and air quality, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, said the government had missed an opportunity by not targeting the country’s “single-use economy”. He also called for measures in the Resources and Waste Strategy to be introduced more quickly.

“The government are patting themselves on the back because of a ban on three items of plastics, when we need to shift our throwaway culture”

Lloyd Russell-Moyle

Mr Russell-Moyle said: “The opposition will not oppose the regulation today, but we would like to place on record our disappointment at a number of missed opportunities.

“The government are patting themselves on the back because of a ban on three items of plastics, when we need to shift our throwaway culture.

“We urgently need the extended producer responsibility scheme that is being considered in the European Union, and we should be taking the lead.”

Rebecca Pow is recycling minister

Plans to ban on the distribution or sale of plastic straws, plastic drinks stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds in England were first announced by Theresa May, then prime minister, in April 2018.

Exceptions

The government confirmed in May 2019 it would implement such a ban, with exceptions to ensure that those with medical needs or a disability could access plastic straws (see letsrecycle.com story).

This means that plastic straws can be purchased in pharmacies, while pubs and restaurants can have plastic straws behind the counter, but cannot display them publicly.

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