The drinks industry may have spearheaded the movement to ditch plastic straws, but government is finally catching up with plans to introduce new laws banning plastic straws throughout England by October 2020.
Legislation will be based on the findings of a six-week consultation process initiated by environment secretary Michael Gove. According to Gove, the laws will seek to protect oceans and wildlife from ‘the devastation throwaway plastic items can cause’. The ban is set to include plastic drink stirrers and cotton buds in addition to plastic straws.
‘I commend retailers, bars and restaurants that have already committed to removing plastic straws and stirrers, but we recognise we need to do more,’ said Gove.
The environment secretary’s consultation will help to determine the finer points of the ban, including exemptions for medical and accessibility reasons – for instance, pubs and bars will be able to stock straws to provide their customers upon request.
Of course, for many in the hospitality industry, the forthcoming ban is simply legislative confirmation of their venues’ current policies.
‘Since UKHospitality’s Unpack the Future of Hospitality summit in the spring, thousands of pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels across the UK have changed their straws and stirrers to biodegradables, or adopted policies that cut or eliminate their use in their venues,’ said Kate Nicholls, CEO of industry body UKHospitality.
‘The government is seeking views on how we can cut plastic waste and we look forward to continued engagement to play a part in achieving that goal.’
The consultation follows the government’s announcement earlier this year of ramped-up efforts to eliminate single-use plastic items.