The United Kingdom will ban the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds with plastic sticks in England starting in April 2020.
The move comes following a consultation with the U.K.'s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, (DEFRA) which concluded in December 2018.
The only exceptions to the new regulations will be for people with a medical need or disability, for whom the plastic products will be available upon request. The U.K. estimates that 5 billion plastic drink straws, 2 billion cotton buds and 300 million plastic stirrers are put into the national waste stream each year.
Maddy Haughton-Boakes at the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: “While it is fantastic news that the government has taken such decisive action… we are deeply disappointed that [Environment Secretary] Michael Gove hasn’t taken the opportunity to ban these unnecessary items all together, whatever the material.
“It’s simply not good enough to switch to so-called “alternatives,” when single-use items should be phased out altogether.”
Various companies have stopped using, or have plans to stop using single-use plastics. McDonalds now uses paper straws in the U.K., while grocery chain Whole Foods is planning to eliminate the straws across its 500 stores globally.