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UK News

Plastic ban not enough to tackle pollution says Tearfund

Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced a nationwide ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds to come into effect in April 2020, as part of a government plan to tackle pollution.

Tearfund welcomes this action, but says the ban should be extended to include other forms of single use plastics.

Tearfund's Senior Campaigner for plastic and waste Joanne Green told Premier: "This is a great first step in phasing out unnecessary single use plastic. But there are other unnecessary items that also need to be included quickly."

The ban, which will make exemptions for those with medical needs and disabilities, has been met with "overwhelming" support from the public, following a government consultation.

The consultation revealed more than 80 per cent of respondents support banning the distribution and sale of straws, while 90 per cent back the ban on drink stirrers and 89 per cent on plastic cotton buds.

Joanne Green said there was no excuse not to be using more sustainable materials: "The EU, for example, has just agreed to ban these items as well as others - cutlery and polystyrene food containers. A lot of these things that are unnecessary but we've become dependent on them.

"But there are affordable, reusable alternatives that we can be switching to. So, we hope that the government will consider including those as well."

With an estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds used across England each year, the ban hopes to save millions of pounds annually on plastic clean-up efforts.

A recent report by Tearfund found that single-use plastic is a huge problem in poorer countries with up to a million people in the developing world dying every year from plastic waste-related diseases.

Ms Green says the UK government could do more to tackle this issue globally: "We are calling on the UK government to increase the amount of aid it gives to this area.

"We would like to see it increase from the current 0.3 percent to 3 percent." She added.

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