Plastic cotton buds now banned in Scotland in fight against ‘global climate emergency’

‘This ban builds on work already underway to address Scotland’s throwaway culture,’ says Scotland’s environment secretary

Sabrina Barr
Saturday 12 October 2019 15:52 BST
The WWF has said it is thrilled with the move
The WWF has said it is thrilled with the move

Scotland has become the first part of the UK to ban the sale of plastic cotton buds in an effort to combat plastic pollution.

The new legislation, which was first presented in Scottish parliament in September, has now come into effect, banning the manufacture and sale of the items.

Roseanna Cunningham, Scottish environment secretary, said she is “proud that the Scottish government has become the first UK administration to ban plastic-stemmed cotton buds”.

Single-use plastic products are not only wasteful but generate unnecessary litter than blights our beautiful beaches and green spaces while threatening our wildlife on land and at sea,” Ms Cunningham said.

“This ban builds on work already underway to address Scotland’s throwaway culture, and we will continue to take action on other problematic items in the coming years as part of our efforts to reduce harmful plastics and single-use items, protect our environment and develop a thriving circular economy.”

The environment secretary said the global climate emergency means society “must all work together to reduce, reuse and recycle to ensure a sustainable future for the current and next generations”.

The ban of plastic cotton buds in Scotland has been praised by environmental campaigners at the Marine Conservative Society, who have cleared around 150,000 plastic cotton bud sticks from beaches in Scotland over the past quarter of a century.

Catherine Gemmell, conservation officer at the organisation, said the regulation is a “fantastic win” for Scotland’s “seas and wildlife”.

“We look forward to more ambitious action from the Scottish government and to working with them on future actions needed to stop the plastic tide,” Ms Gemmell stated.

Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, said the ban is “great news for wildlife”.

“Cotton buds are some of the most pervasive forms of marine pollution so the ban is a very welcome step and one that we hope other countries will follow,” Mr Banks said.

“We know plastic is suffocating our seas and devastating our wildlife with millions of birds, fish and mammals dying each year because of the plastic in our oceans.”

Mr Banks stated that plastics can also be found in “the food we eat and the water we drink”.

“So saving our oceans will require ambitious action from governments, industry and consumers,” he added.

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In May, it was reported that plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds are to be banned in England from April next year.

Environment secretary Michael Gove said an open consultation regarding the ban of the items received “overwhelming” public support.

According to government figures, approximately 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used in England on an annual basis.

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