Plastic straw and cotton bud ban proposed

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Media caption Five ways to break up with plastic

Plastic straws and cotton buds could be banned in England as part of the government’s bid to cut plastic waste.

Ministers pointed to one estimate that 8. 5bn plastic straws were thrown away in the UK every year.

The prime minister said plastic waste was “one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world”.

And Theresa May will urge leaders in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference, which began earlier, to follow the UK’s lead in tackling the problem.

The Queen has formally opened the summit at an event at Buckingham Palace attended by prime ministers and presidents from the 53 states that make up the organisation.

Mrs May claimed the UK was a “world leader” on tackling plastic waste, highlighting the charges that have been introduced for plastic bags, the ban on microbeads and the announcement in March of a consultation on introducing a deposit return scheme for drinks containers in England.

“Alongside our domestic action, this week we are rallying Commonwealth countries to join us in the fight against marine plastics, ” she said.

“The Commonwealth is a unique organisation, with a huge diversity of wildlife, environments and coastlines.

“Together we can effect real change so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it. ”

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Image caption Waste plastic bags are a major environmental problem in many African countries

Analysis: By BBC science editor Brian Shukman

The surroundings secretary Michael Gove describes plastic material waste as a worldwide emergency, which usually naturally raises questions about the rate of the government’s response.

The headlines talk of a ban upon plastic straws – but the statement is about a consultation to do that. A similar workout is under way about a deposit plan for plastic drinks bottles, plus MPs were not impressed on Wed when they learned that the system itself is not going to come into effect until 2020.

When ministers look at the UK leading the world on this awesome topic it’s worth casting an eye fixed over the actions of other nations. Dozens have actually banned plastic-type material bags – Britain has a approach to retailers having to charge for them.

And since a year ago Kenya has adopted the most animal measures of all: there are fines if you are using a plastic bag and if people are caught making or adding them, they actually face up to 4 years in jail.

Amid many claims about combating a war on plastic, the particular Kenyans are leading the cost.

It comes as 60 UK music celebrations , including Bestival in Dorset and Boomtown in Hampshire, possess said they will ban plastic straws at their events this summer.

Bestival’s co-founder Rob Da Bank said they were “leading the global charge against unnecessary plastic”, as the group of festivals also pledged to eliminate all single-use plastic by 2021.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who trailed the idea of banning plastic straws in February, will launch the consultation later this year.

“We’re going to consult on what the best way is in order to get rid of straws, get rid of stirrers and also get rid of plastic stemmed cotton buds that we use so many of, ” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“It’s a worldwide emergency – that’s why we’re choosing to act. It’s also why we’re working with other Commonwealth countries. ”

He said a consultation was necessary, particularly in relation to straws, because there were some disabled people who need to use plastic straws.

Mr Gove said a number of retailers, bars and restaurants were already cutting plastic use, with the plastic bag ban set to be extended from major retailers to all retailers.

Scotland’s Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham announced earlier this year a plan to ban plastic straws, following a similar move aimed at banning the sale and manufacture of plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

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Media caption Plastic air pollution is killing animals in the Frosty

Greenpeace UK and Friends from the Earth have welcomed the statement as a “step forward” but each also warned more action will be needed.

Greenpeace’s Louise Edge said other non-recyclable “problem plastics” should also be banned in the earliest opportunity and retailers should take responsibility to phase away single-use plastics in their own items.

Friends from the Earth’s Julian Kirby said the particular “only long-term solution is a complete phase-out of all but the most essential plastics”.

The news was made welcome by the Green Party, but co-leader Jonathan Bartley said the government “must see these plans through to actions, and bring forward the absolutely un-ambitious target of eliminating all of avoidable plastic waste by 2042”.

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Media caption Theresa May has pledged to eradicate all avoidable plastic-type material waste in the UK by 2042

Previously this week, Mrs May announced the new Thoroughly clean Oceans Alliance — an agreement between the UK, Vanuatu, Brand new Zealand, Sri Lanka and Ghana, which usually pledged to ban microbeads makeup products and cut plastic bag make use of by 2021.

To fund it, she also designated £ 61. 4m for worldwide research and to improve waste administration in developing countries.

The Full will be joined by other users of the Royal family at the official opening of the Commonwealth Heads associated with Government Meeting (CHOGM) on Thursday night morning.

BBC regal correspondent Jonny Dymond said it could be “emotional” for some, because it could be the final CHOGM the Queen opens : she has stopped travelling long ranges and the event is unlikely to come back to London for some time.

“The Commonwealth has been nurtured from the Queen over the decades and it retains a special place in her affections, inch he said.

“That affection is reflected one of the heads of government, who usually send a more junior representative towards the meeting – this time around it is perfect ministers and presidents. ”

A number of events have already taken place ahead of the first official day of the CHOGM, including a Commonwealth Youth Forum, attended by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Mrs May also met Caribbean leaders on Tuesday to apologise for the fiasco around threats of deportation to the Windrush generation, who legally settled in the UK 70 years ago.

Do you have any questions about the government’s plans to cut plastic waste? Or a ban on plastic straws and cotton buds? Please get in touch by emailing haveyoursay@bbc. co. uk .

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