Michael Gove is taking action on plastic pollution by confirming a ban on the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds after a consultation revealed "overwhelming" public support.
It was announced today that the environment secretary has confirmed a ban on the sale and use of the items from April 2020.
Around 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are thought to be used in England each year.
Following the ban, food and drink outlets will be unable to display plastic straws or provide them to customers.
The only exceptions include those who need to use plastic straws for medical reasons or a disability will be able to buy them from registered pharmacies or request them in restaurants, pubs and bars, and the use of plastic-stemmed cotton buds for medical and scientific purposes.
Mr Gove said: "Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment.
"These items are often used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down, ending up in our seas and oceans and harming precious marine life.
"So today I am taking action to turn the tide on plastic pollution, and ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations."
The government's response to the consultation, published on Wednesday, reveals that more than 80% of respondents back a ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws.
Additionally, 90% backed a ban on drinks stirrers and 89% a ban on cotton buds. It is hoped that millions of pounds could be saved annually on clean-up efforts of used plastics.
An estimated 150 million tonnes of plastic end up in the world's oceans every year, while one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.