Government confirm plastic straws, cotton buds & stirrers ban from April 2020

Today (22 May 2019) the government published their response to the consultation proposing a ban on plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers – you can read the full response document HERE.

The consultation, which closed in 2018, intended to gather views from industry and the public on the usage of these products and their perceived necessity.

As a result of the consultation, the government has committed to banning the supply of plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers in England as of April 2020.

Plastic drinking straws – Ban date: April 2020

These will be banned in England but with a couple of exemptions to ensure that those with medical needs are accounted for; these are as follows:

  • Plastic straws may be provided to cater for accessibility / medical needs
  • Pharmacies will be able to supply straws to those in need
  • Catering establishments will be able to provide (on request) plastic straws to those in need, but may not keep the straws on display otherwise they will be prohibited from providing them.

Plastic stemmed cotton buds – Ban date: April 2020

These will be banned in England with the below exemptions:

  • Those needed for medical purposes
  • Those needed for scientific or forensic purposes

Plastic stirrers – Ban date: April 2020

These will be banned in England with no exemptions.

Beverage carton straws – Potential ban date: June 2021

These are also intended to be banned but in line with the Single-Use Plastics Directive. This directive is planned for implementation in June 2019, but won’t come into full effect until June 2021, therefore, the banning of beverage carton straws will likely come into effect as of June 2021. However, this will depend somewhat on the outcome of Brexit negotiations.

Plastic types – Biodegradable vs traditional

A very mixed response (56% for, 34% against and 10% unsure) was received regarding the inclusion of “biodegradable” plastics within this ban. This is mostly due to uncertainty around how biodegradable the range of plastics currently available on the market labelled as this actually are. Subsequently, the government has decided that biodegradable plastics will still be included within the ban.

The government does plan to review a standard for biodegradable plastics which may allow for exclusion later down the line.


There were mixed views as to how these changes should be enforced and whom by, however, the government position is that Civil Sanctions through the “Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008” will be used to enforce these bans. As to whether Fixed Monetary Penalties (FMPs) or other enforcement methods (Stop Notices etc) will be used for this is still undecided.

If you have any queries with regards to this consultation outcome and how this may affect your business, please don’t hesitate to contact us –