Plastic straws, stirrers and q-tips to be banned in England starting April 2020

Plastic straws, stirrers and q-tips to be banned in England starting April 2020
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Plastic straws, stirrers and q-tips will be banned in England starting in April of 2020, the government confirmed Wednesday.

Environment officials estimated that 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used in the country each year.

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"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," Environment Secretary Michael Gove said in a statement.

"So today I am taking action to turn the tide on plastic pollution, and ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations."

The ban includes exemptions for people who require plastic straws due to medical needs or disabilities, with registered pharmacies allowed to sell them and food establishments keeping a stock they will be able to provide to customers on request.

England's move comes amid a wave of global action to tackle the growing plastic waste crisis.

Earlier in May, the governments of 187 countries agreed to control the movement of plastic waste between national borders.

The U.S. notably did not sign on, but several companies and cities in the country have banned single-use plastic.