The UK government has announced a plan to ban not only the sale and distribution of plastic straws but also plastic drink stirrers and cotton buds. The project has been put in motion by UK government secretary Michael Gove.

The proposed ban is set to be implemented sometime between October 2019 and October 2020. The government will also look into ways in which those with medical conditions who need to use straws will still have access to them.

The UK government stated that single-use plastic items are used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down.

Michael Gove told FoodBev Media that, “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 £0.05 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.”

It is estimated that England uses 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds annually, while the cleaning costs for these items alone are estimated to cost the government millions of pounds every year. The news follows an announcement from the UK government earlier this year that said that there was a high level of support from English individuals and businesses to implement a tax on single-use plastics.