Ninth Report Contents

Instruments of interest

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

14.These draft Regulations propose to ban the supply of single-use plastic straws, single-use plastic-stemmed cotton buds and plastic drink stirrers in England to prevent environmental pollution and harm to human and animal health. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) estimates that 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used in England every year. Defra says that the proposed ban was first announced in April 2018, and that 82% of the individuals and 81% of the organisations which responded to a public consultation on the proposals in 2018 expressed support for a ban on plastic straws. There was also strong support for restrictions on plastic drink stirrers (89% of all respondents) and plastic-stemmed cotton buds (90% of all respondents). The instrument sets out exemptions for the use of plastic straws and plastic-stemmed cotton buds for medical and certain other specified purposes. Defra expects that 60% of the additional costs will be passed on to consumers, with the total net present costs estimated to be £54 million over 10 years. To minimise the impact of the ban, businesses will be allowed to use existing stock until 31 October 2020. Defra has provided a comprehensive and well-written Explanatory Memorandum and Impact Assessment (IA) in relation to the ban on plastic straws. While draft IAs for the ban on plastic stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds were published at the consultation stage, the Department told the Committee that full IAs are not required for these measures as the annual costs to business in each case are expected to be less than £5 million. Instead, Defra will publish regulatory triage assessments setting out the rationale for the measures before the instrument is debated in Parliament. It would have been helpful for these documents to have been available at the time of laying. The Committee notes that plastic straws and stirrers have not been used in catering outlets on the Parliamentary estate since October 2018.

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