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Theresa May Announces UK Government's Plan to Ban the Sale of Plastic Straws, Stirrers & Cotton Swabs

Theresa May Announces UK Government's Plan to Ban the Sale of Plastic Straws, Stirrers & Cotton Swabs
(Kuttig\ullstein bild via Getty Images, Theresa May/Gov.UK)

The U.K. Prime Minister is on a mission to protect the world's oceans and marine life by combating the wasteful culture of consumers.

On Wednesday, Theresa May announced a ban on the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers, and cotton swabs and called on other Commonwealth countries to join her crusade against plastic pollution.

In a press release, the government stressed that single-use plastic items have a damaging impact on the environment, and a recent study showed that 8.5 million straws are disposed of annually in the U.K. alone.

According to the Marine Conservation Society, plastic straws are among the top ten items retrieved from waterfront cleanups.

The ban is Downing Street's latest effort in cleaning approximately 150 million tons of plastic that have killed over one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals from the earth's waters.

May explained the importance of protecting marine life in a statement.

Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world, which is why protecting the marine environment is central to our agenda at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

The Prime Minister proudly expressed that the British public subscribed to the U.K. government's point of view on helping the environment.

The UK government is a world leader on this issue, and the British public have shown passion and energy embracing our plastic bag charge and microbead ban, and today we have put forward ambitious plans to further reduce plastic waste from straws, stirrers and cotton buds.

In addition to its domestic efforts, the government is providing $87.3 million to fund for "global research and to improve waste management in developing countries."

She told the Daily Mail that the time is now to take action.

We are clogging up one of the earth's greatest natural resources with harmful plastic and – for the sake of this and future generations – we must take action now.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove stressed the importance of taking further action against plastic waste in a statement.

Single-use plastics are a scourge on our seas and lethal to our precious environment and wildlife so it is vital we act now. We have already banned harmful microbeads and cut plastic bag use, and now we want to take action on straws, stirrers and cotton buds to help protect our marine life.

While the proposed ban was given the seal of approval by environmentalists, the senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace U.K. Louise Edge told Mashable in an email that the government should also strive for bigger measures that would involve non-recyclable plastics.

The government has made a strong move on banning some of the most unnecessary single-use plastics. Reducing the amount of plastic we're using and discarding is vital for curbing ocean plastic pollution and this could be the start of the elimination of unnecessary throwaway plastic.

The government will give "sufficient time to adapt" as the ban won't likely be enforced until starting with England next year.

Similar measure such as plastic bag bans or fees have already taken place in the U.S. albeit with some resistance. But starting June 1, restaurants in Malibu, California, will be banned from offering plastic straws, stirrers, and other utensils, according to NPR.

H/T - Dailymail, Mashable, Gov