Environmental Protection (Plastic Straws, Cotton Buds and Stirrers) (England) Regulations 2020


These regulations ban the supply and sale of plastic straws, cotton buds and drinks stirrers in England from October 2020.

The regulations provide a limited number of exemptions from this ban.



The Environmental Protection (Plastic Straws, Cotton Buds and Stirrers) (England) Regulations 2020 prohibits the sale or supply of various single-use plastic items in England. Unless exempt, plastic-stemmed cotton buds, plastic straws and drink stirrers are banned from 1 October 2020.

The legislation applies to England only.

Time-limited Exemption: Attached Single-use Plastic Straws

The supply of single-use plastic straws attached to a product will be prohibited from 3 July 2021.

Exemptions: Plastic Straws

Single-use plastic straws may continue to be supplied where attached to the packaging of a drink product. Single-use plastic straws may be supplied by the following businesses subject to conditions:

  • Retail pharmacy businesses, including via online or distance sales;
  • Catering establishments, where the straw is provided for immediate consumption together with the food or drink. These must not be kept visible and can only be provided on request;
  • Businesses where products are supplied for medical purposes or for use with medical devices.

Single-use plastic straws may also continue to be provided in care homes, childcare premises, schools, prisons and other places of detention. Plastic straws that are packaging may also be provided.

Exemptions: Single-use Plastic-stemmed Cotton Buds

The supply of single-use plastic-stemmed cotton buds will be prohibited.

Plastic-stemmed cotton buds may continue to be supplied for use as a medical device, for medical purposes or for forensic or scientific purposes.

Plastic Drink Stirrers

The supply of plastic drink stirrers will be prohibited in all cases.


Entry and examination powers are provided for the enforcement of this legislation. Civil sanctions will be able for enforcement: monetary penalties, compliance and stop notices or enforcement undertakings entered into with the offender. Costs of enforcement may also be recovered.




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