The Environmental Protection (Plastic Straws, Cotton Buds and Stirrers) (England) Regulations 2020 were made on 10th September and come into force on the 1st October.

These effectively ban the normal use of the three products with the person offering them to the end user being guilty of an offence. However, there are a number of exemptions.

For straws, for instance, catering establishments can provide them on request, but must not offer them or have them on show. Pharmacies, care homes and prisons are exempt. And the regulations do not apply to drinks products with the straw attached until 1 July 2021.

For cotton buds, medical and forensic uses are exempt, but there are no exemptions for plastic stirrers. There is also a 6-month period of grace for existing stock.

It will be interesting to see how this gets communicated – and enforced – to the hundreds of thousands of small retailers, cafes, restaurants, pubs, catering companies, etc, especially as the ‘regulator’ will be local authorities who are not exactly over-resourced for existing commitments.