Plastic straw and cotton bud ban proposed in England

In a bid to cut down on plastic waste, the government has proposed a ban on plastic straws and cotton buds. An estimated 8.5 bn plastic straws are thrown away in the UK every year.

The prime minister, Theresa May, will urge leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to follow UK’s lead in tackling this issue. The prime minister, categorically pointed out that plastic waste was “one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world”

While there are headlines that talk about a ban, the announcement is just a consultation to do that. A similar exercise is under way about a deposit scheme for plastic drinks bottles, and MPs were not impressed on Wednesday when they learned that the system itself will not come into effect until 2020.

The environment secretary Michael Gove describes plastic waste as a worldwide emergency, which raises questions over the speed of the response. Several other countries in the commonwealth have actually banned plastic bags, of which Kenya has the strictest measures that include fines and imprisonment.

Amid many claims about fighting a war on plastic, the Kenyans are leading the charge.

The good news is that various retailers, music festivals and restaurants in the UK are following in the lead of the government and stopping the use of plastic straws.

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