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Plastic Straws and Cotton Buds May be Banned in the UK

Posted on 7th June 2018 by Hintons

recycling sign

Some of the UK’s most common day-to-day objects could be a distant memory if the government’s plans come to fruition. In a renewed effort to cut Britain’s growing plastic waste, it has been proposed to ban both cotton buds and plastic straws across the nation.

In this article, we’re looking at the impact this change – and other plastic waste measures – could have on our environment.

The plastic ban plan

According to a recent government press release on the subject, the UK throws away “8.5billion plastic straws each year”. While this figure seems to be an estimation, it doesn’t seem to be much of an exaggeration, and is indicative of the UK’s wider plastic problem.

Moving to ban the use of plastic straws and cotton buds is a preliminary step towards a wider push against plastics, but it could have some significant effects. Namely, the safekeeping of marine life.

Plastic in ocean waters – bad for the environment

Existing plastic waste is a plague on ocean life. Items such as plastic-stemmed cotton buds routinely pass undetected through screens in sewers and drains, eventually finding their way into the ocean. Once there, UV rays and ocean waves break them down further, leaving small plastic fragments to be ingested by ocean life.

Birds and sea life die in their thousands each year because of plastic waste, so tackling these single-use plastics – preventing them from reaching the oceans in the first place – will help to safeguard our oceans over the long term.

McDonald’s planning to ban plastic straws

The fast food industry is the single largest contributor to plastic straw waste in the UK, but one of the biggest players in the industry has recently taken a stance on the issue.

McDonald’s is phasing out plastic straw use in their UK restaurants. They join other companies across the country – including Wetherspoons and Wagamama – in replacing plastic straws with paper alternatives.

While there are many other plastic items thrown away each day in the UK, phasing out the use of plastic straws is a strong step towards achieving the larger end-goal of cutting all avoidable plastic waste.

How can you help?

The government’s plans – while a fantastic indication of a more eco friendly future – may not come to fruition for a couple of years at least. But how can the individual help? First, you can prepare yourself for any such ban by cutting down on your use of plastic straws and cotton buds as much as possible.

For plastics that are recyclable, you should really focus on making sure they are recycled and not just thrown away with general refuse. For commercial businesses in particular, a detailed waste management plan should be included into your day-to-day operations.

Hintons Waste provide responsible waste management services to commercial and domestic customers across Croydon, London and the surrounding areas. We collect and dispose of your waste, always working inline with all environmental regulations to avoid the use of landfill wherever possible. If your home or business regularly generates plastic waste, contact us today and we will ensure it is removed and recycled at our own recycling facility.

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