New plans to ban sale and distribution of single-use plastics announced

22nd October 2018

The EAUC welcomes the Government plans, announced today (22 October), to ban the distribution and sale of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds.

Subject to a consultation, also launched today, the Government is looking to ban the distribution and sale of these single-use plastic items between October 2019 and October 2020.

It is estimated in England that despite non-plastic alternatives being readily available, we use 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds a year.

There will be some exemptions, for example pharmacies will be able to stock them for medical reasons.

Launching the consultation, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “Our precious oceans and the wildlife within need urgent protection from the devastation throw-away plastic items can cause.

“In England we are taking world-leading action with our ban on microbeads, and thanks to the public’s support have taken over 15 billion plastic bags out of circulation with our 5p charge.

“I commend retailers, bars and restaurants that have already committed to removing plastic straws and stirrers. But we recognise we need to do more. Today we step-up our efforts to turn the tide on plastic pollution and ensure we leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it.”

CEO at the EAUC, Iain Patton said: “This is another step in the right direction. Many universities and colleges have already started to ban single-use plastic, offering free water refill points to enable students to use reusable drinks portals, and banning the sale of plastic bottles on campus. They are also hubs of innovation and research when it comes to finding alternatives.

“Universities and colleges are leaders in the sustainability space, and we would encourage society to look to them as examples of best practice. We would also encourage any institutions that have not already reviewed their single-use plastic policies to do so now.
“EAUC members are welcome to use the Communities of Practice to ask other institutions for advice and support on how to do this.”

If you would like to have a say in the EAUC consultation response on this, please email You will find all of our consultation responses here.

The Government is also looking at further ways to reduce avoidable waste and recycle more as part of its Resources and Waste Strategy to be published later this year.
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