A BAN on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds has come into force across England as part of efforts to tackle single-use plastic pollution.

The ban, which started on Thursday, now means it is illegal across England for businesses to supply plastic straws, drinks stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds to customers, with exemptions in place to protect disabled people and those with medical conditions who require plastic straws.

The Government said it was the latest step in the fight against single-use plastic waste to protect the environment and oceans.

Environment secretary George Eustice said: “Single-use plastics cause real devastation to the environment and this Government is firmly committed to tackling this issue head on.

“Our 5p charge on single-use plastic bags has successfully cut sales by 95 per cent in the main supermarkets; we have banned microbeads; and we are building plans for a deposit return scheme to drive up the recycling of single-use drinks containers.

“The ban on straws, stirrers and cotton buds is just the next step in our battle against plastic pollution and our pledge to protect our oceans and the environment for future generations.”

The ban on the plastic products had been due to come in in April but was delayed several months until October due to the challenges coronavirus posed to businesses. An estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds were used in England each year, officials said.