The United Kingdom is well on its way to ban the sale of single-use plastics in the country including plastic straws and cotton swabs.
This ban is a step towards the country’s goal of eliminating avoidable plastic waste, as part of the 25 Year Environmental Plan, published on January 11, 2018. The hope is that this ban will contribute towards effectively cleaning up England’s beaches, rivers and the oceans, ridding them of harmful plastic, which negatively impacts marine life as well as people’s health and wellbeing.
The newly proposed ban follows the successful implementation of plastic bags and microbeads, both of which showed a significant reduction in the plastic level in waters of the country. After UK imposed a tax on single-use plastic bans in grocery stores, a staggering 90% reduction was noted which is equivalent to 9 billion less plastic bags in use.
Historically, the efforts taken by the UK to reduce plastic waste have resulted in significant and clearly quantifiable decreases in plastic waste all around the nation, which have also served as case studies for other countries attempting to do the same.
With the newly proposed ban, the government plans to work with industries to develop as well as implement new initiatives, and while this could come as a blow to the food industry, in particular, it is worth to note that franchises like McDonald’s is already taking measures to eliminate plastic from their outlets.
According to the UK Government, estimates show that there are over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the oceans of the world, and that every year over 1 million birds and 100,000 sea mammals die from either ingesting them or getting entangled in them. Further estimates show that the plastic in our oceans will triple from 2015 – 2025. This alone has prompted UK to reassess the use of plastics in every aspect. The government also introduced a required deposit on plastic bottles, which means that customers must pay a deposit when they purchase a plastic bottle, which will be refunded when they return or recycle the same. The newly proposed ban on plastic straws also aims to curb the estimated 8.5 billion plastic straw disposal that happens in the UK alone, annually. In December 2018, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs introduced the Consultation on the proposal to extend the single-use carrier bag charge to all retailers and to increase the minimum charge to 10p. In the same consultation, it is stated that with 1.7 billion bags supplied by large scale retailers last year and an estimated 3.4 billion by SMEs, at the time of the introduction of the legislation, further steps are needed to reduce plastic waste.