In a move by the government, all plastic straws, cotton buds with plastic stems and drink stirrers are going to be banned from use and sale in England from April next year.
This plan has been in the works for over a year. The government is hopeful that it would lessen the litter and environmental damage that is caused due to plastic products. In the UK, each year, the usage of plastic straws goes up to 5 billion, 300 million plastic stirrers and 2 billion cotton buds with stems of plastic.
Most of these get flushed down the toilets, especially toilet buds, which then pollute the British waterworks. This, in turn, endangers several marine life. The entire UK waterworks teems with plastic, according to latest reports.
For people complaining that it would severely affect the way we live our lives, alternatives are also available. In fact, restaurants and bars would include paper straws or other biodegradable products instead of plastic. Most of the plastic items do have a biodegradable alternative. And, provisions for the sick, disabled and elderly have already been proposed. They will get their required products upon request.
Although Britain is expecting an exit from the EU, the EU in itself is looking to abolish plastics in different forms.
A survey conducted by a government consultation reported that almost 80% wanted to substitute plastic straws with paper. And almost 9 out of ten wanted to substitute drink stirrers, while a similar number wanted alternatives for cotton buds with plastic stems. Now, only registered pharmacies would be able to use or sell such plastics, while restaurants, bars, and other such establishments would require a permit or license to deploy such stuff.
The environment secretary Michael Gove expressed his concern about plastic, commenting that while it would simply take a couple of minutes to use and then dispose of them, it would take nature hundreds of years to break it down.
In what can be called an unprecedented move, most campaigners decided to support the government initiative. Hugo Tagholm, the CEO of Surfers Against Sewage, welcomed this plan. He mentioned that the ban on single-use plastics nationwide would prevent beaches from being a hub of plastics, and would actually encourage people to come to visit and relax for a while.
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There has been some disappointment from other sectors, though. Emma Priestland of Friends of the Earth has been somewhat upset that the ban is simply on plastics, that are minimal, compared to the vast plastic industry out there. Her campaign is against big conglomerates and producers producing bags, packets, balloons, and other such pollutants, which put a toll on the taxpayers, while also polluting this earth.
She claims that it is time to cut such expenses of the board.
Well, at least, we are seeing some progress against plastic pollution. And it gives hope.
IMAGE CREDIT: Marcelo Alexandre Rabelo