Plastic Cotton Buds Are Now Banned In This Part Of The UK

Nick Levine

Scotland has become the first part of the UK to ban plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

Catherine Gemmell of The Marine Conservation Society hailed the ban, which comes into force today, as a “fantastic win for our seas and wildlife”. She said the charity’s volunteers have collected 150,000 plastic cotton bud sticks from Scottish beaches over the last 25 years.

In a statement, the Scottish government said the plastic cotton bud ban is “the latest step being taken to reduce reliance on single-use products”. Scotland’s Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham added: “We are facing a global climate emergency and must all work together to reduce, reuse and recycle to ensure a sustainable future for the current and next generation.”

Plastic cotton buds are to be banned in England from April 2020 – along with plastic stirrers and plastic straws.

When he announced the move in May, Michael Gove, then the UK’s Environment Secretary, said: “Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment. 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.”

Though a variety of eco-friendly straws are now available, it’s been estimated that plastic straws still account for 95% of those used in the UK.

The Welsh government said in May that it was considering implementing a similar ban on plastic cotton buds, straws and stirrers.

The bans come as many of us, shocked and horrified by TV documentaries highlighting the world’s plastic problem, are seeking out ways to reduce our plastic consumption at home – such as making plastic-free work lunches.

Meanwhile, the world’s largest concert promoter, Live Nation, has vowed to eliminate single-use plastics from its venues and festivals by 2021.

Glastonbury, which is not a Live Nation festival, has also pledged to eliminate single-use plastics as part of its typically innovative response to the plastic problem. And more than 60 other independent music festivals in the UK have also committed to eliminating single-use plastic by 2021.

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