Plastic waste is an issue that’s damaging the oceans and the environment. And in a bid to tackle the problem, the British government has announced that it will be introducing a ban on single-use plastics from next year.
As of 2020, plastic straws, cotton buds, drinks stirrers, and other types of single-use plastics will be banned from being sold in England.
Research shows that, globally, an estimated 75% of plastic waste ends up in landfills. It can take up to 500 years to decompose, and a lot of it ends up in the oceans, where it can be extremely harmful to marine wildlife.
In the UK, around 4.5 billion plastic bags are distributed in supermarkets every year. Supermarkets have pledged to take steps to fight against plastic waste.
Asda has pledged to cut the amount of waste it uses in its own-brand products, as have its rival supermarkets.
Tesco and Sainsbury’s have both said that they are planning to ban single-use carrier bags in the near future, and some leading supermarkets have vowed to replace polystyrene products with cardboard.
But despite this, the amount of plastic being thrown away is continuing to increase.
One of the biggest problems with plastic is that most of the time it’s chlorinated. That means that when it’s thrown away, it can release toxic chemicals into the soil or water. This can destroy ecosystems and do serious environmental harm.
In England, it’s estimated that, every year, consumers use 4.7 billion plastic straws, 1.8 billion plastic cotton buds, and 316 million plastic stirrers. These items are often littered or sent to landfill sites.
Instead, environmental groups are campaigning for a switch to reusable alternatives, such as paper or reusable stainless steel. There are also biodegradable choices of many products, which could be used instead.
The new law should mean consuming less plastic, as the only exceptions to the law will be for those who need the items for medical purposes, like in pharmacies. Bars, clubs, restaurants, and pubs, however, will need to find an alternative.