The UK Single-Use Plastic Ban Explained

Thu, Sep 17, 20

So, as the single-use plastic ban is soon to be (finally) introduced to the UK, I thought it would be useful to tell all you fellow Stroodlers exactly what the ban is, when it will be enforced, and of course, how it will affect you.

I also realised that some of you may be worrying about having to live a straw-less, bud-less and drink stirrer-less life, so I thought I would highlight some eco-friendly alternatives you could use instead of these unnecessarily plastic items. So, if you’re like myself, Mr. Stroodles, and want to help save our beautiful planet from single-use plastic, keep on reading!

What is the single use plastic ban?

In May 2019, the government confirmed that they would be introducing a ban on plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic stemmed cotton buds in an attempt to reduce the UK’s consumption of single-use plastic, and instead promote the use of recyclable materials.

What date will the single use plastic ban be enforced in the UK? 

October 2020. The ban was originally planned to come into place from April 2020, but has been delayed till October due to the coronavirus pandemic.

How does the single use plastic ban affect you or your business?

The ban means that from October 2020:

  • All catering establishments such as bars, restaurants, cafes and pubs won’t be able to display plastic straws, hand them out, or even offer them to customers. However, to protect the rights of people with medical conditions and disabilities, establishments will be able to provide them on a request only basis.
  • Shops and supermarkets will not be allowed to sell plastic straws. However, registered pharmacies will be permitted to sell them (over the counter or online).
  • Cotton buds (with plastic stems) will be completely banned from sale to the general public, however medical/scientific laboratories will be able to buy them for use in research and for forensic tasks in criminal investigations.
  • Plastic drinks stirrers will be totally banned from sale.

For more info, please visit the UK Government Website

Why the single use plastic ban?

The aim of the plastic ban is to reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste, and the damage caused by these unnecessary plastic items. In the UK, it is estimated that we use a staggering 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic stemmed cotton buds every year. An estimated 10% of cotton buds are flushed down the toilet and can end up in waterways and oceans and threaten precious marine wildlife.
The reason that these small single-use plastic items will be banned next month, ahead of other plastic items such as plastic bags, is because, as the great graphic by BBC below explains, they are an absolute nightmare to remove from water waste.


What happens to cotton buds

Alternatives to these single-use plastic items - Let’s keep Mr. Stroodles happy!

Plastic Straws

The world sips through around 1 billion straws A DAY - that is a LOT of plastic waste polluting our beautiful planet! However, you don’t need to feel guilty when enjoying your drink through a straw, because it’s completely ok to use straws again, as long as they are Stroodles!

Stroodles are the perfect alternative to plastic, and soggy paper drinking straws! What are Stroodles made of? Two very natural ingredients - wheat and water. The simple pasta formula is 100% biodegradable, edible, lasts for over an hour in your drink, has no flavour and is zero-waste. Time to start making small, effortless changes and start Stroodlin’!

Stroodles Straws

Cotton Buds

Thankfully there are solutions to plastic stemmed cotton buds! I’ve listed a few examples below which are either reusable, or 100% biodegradable and compostable, meaning that they can be easily disposed of - hurrah to no cotton buds ending up in our waterways and oceans!

Bamboo Cotton Buds

  1. PandaStix: Their cotton buds are not only great for the environment, but by being a sturdy bamboo stick, it is so easy to apply or remove makeup, or gently clean and dry baby’s toes or fingers. Being naturally made from 100% pure cotton and organic bamboo, they are fully compostable, which means that they help our environment by cutting down on landfill and ocean waste!

  2. Bamboo Stickmasters: Made from flexible bamboo and organic cotton, these bamboo cotton buds are super strong and will not snap or splinter, making them a great choice! No more plastic sticks floating in the ocean. Simply add to your compost when used!

Bamboo Cotton Buds

Reusable Swabs

Last Swab: Made from TPE, PP, and stored in a bio-based carrying case, one LastSwab is meant to replace 1000 single-use cotton swabs. LastSwab provides an eco friendly alternative to the many uses of single use cotton buds without the large environmental footprint.

This reusable cotton bud comes in two different models for different applications! One for general cotton bud uses and one for more beauty oriented ones. They are both made from durable yet flexible, high quality, and non-toxic materials which are gentle on the skin and very easy to clean. Both come with a convenient and biodegradable carrying case that keeps your reusable cotton bud stored away safely.


Last Swab

Drink Stirrers

Why not use Stroodles?!
As well as being a perfect straw (and delicious pasta), stroodles also make great drink stirrers!

Wooden stirrers 

There are many companies that sell wooden drink stirrers, such as these by Next Day Coffee and these by our friends at Plastic Free Shopper! These wooden drink stirrers are made with wood paper from a fully sustainable forest, ensuring that all materials used are fully renewable!


Wooden Stirrers

Glass drink stirrers from our friends at Drink Stuff

These stirrers are made from clear glass with a smooth finish and ball end, and compliment any glass perfectly. Washable and reusable, glass cocktail stirrers are much more environmentally friendly than disposable alternatives!

Use the sustainable option people! There's plenty ;)

Mr. Stroodles x



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