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Tableware, kitchenware, other household articles and toilet articles, of plastics (HS 3924)

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

The draft regulations prohibit the supply of plastic straws, plastic drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds in the course of a business.

In the draft regulations:

-           "plastic" means a material consisting of polymer as defined in Article 3(5) of Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006, to which additives or other substances may have been added, and which can function as a main structural component of final products, with the exception of natural polymers that have not been chemically modified;

-           "single use plastic straw" means a straw that is made wholly or partly from plastic and that is not designed or intended to be re-used; -           "plastic drink stirrer" means an implement made partly or wholly of plastic designed and intended for stirring drinks;

-           "single use plastic stemmed cotton bud" means an item that consists of a rod made wholly or partly of plastic with cotton wrapped around one or both ends and that is not designed or intended to be re-used;

-           "attached plastic straw" means a single use plastic straw which is attached to the packaging of a drink product and is intended to be used to consume that drink.

The prohibitions on the supply of single use plastic straws other than attached plastic straws, and on the supply of single use plastic stemmed cotton buds, apply only to the supply of those products to an end user, and are subject to certain exemptions.  The prohibitions on the supply of attached plastic straws and plastic drink stirrers apply to all supplies of those products made in the course of a business.

Exemptions for the supply of plastic straws:

-           Supply through registered pharmacies;

-           Supply with food or drink for immediate consumption, provided the straws are kept in a place where they are not visible to customers and they are only provided on demand;

-           Straws used for medical devices and purposes;

-           Straws used for packaging;

-           Straws supplied in care homes, premises for early years' provision, schools and prisons.

Exemptions for the supply of cotton buds:

-           Cotton buds used for medical devices and purposes;

-           Cotton buds used for forensic and scientific purposes.

Breach of these prohibitions is an offence.  The draft regulations also confer powers on enforcement authorities to impose civil sanctions, including monetary penalties and stop notices, as an alternative to criminal prosecution.

The draft regulations apply to England only. The prohibition is proposed to be implemented in April 2020. The prohibition on attached plastic straws is proposed for July 2021.

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