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As a result of heightened media exposure, there has been a huge public outcry surrounding the use of Plastic Straws in the hospitality sector in the UK. This has led to many newspaper, TV & Social Media Campaigns calling for Government action to reduce the impact of straws on the environment. As a consequence of the above, in August 2018, the UK Government launched a consultation proposing to ban the sale and distribution of Plastic Straws, Cotton Buds and Drink Stirrers. The consultation closed on 3rd December 2018, and the results were published in May 2019, resulting in a ban on plastic straws and drinks stirrers in most settings.

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The “market restriction” or ban comes into effect from October 1st 2020 

The Detail 

1. Plastic Straw & Drink Stirrer ban effective from 1 st October 2020 with exemptions. The exemptions are to cater for those with medical and accessibility needs. The regulation extends to England & Wales and applies in relation to England only. 

2. Plastic straws will be permitted in catering establishments on request only and for those with medical or accessibility needs; however, no proof of medical condition is required for those requesting straws. Catering establishments are not permitted to have plastic straws visible to customers or where they can access them. Anyone doing so is guilty of an offence. Anyone offering a plastic straw to an end-user is also guilty of an offence. 

3. Plastic straws will be available to health sites and catering establishments from the pharmaceutical and wholesale sectors. Pharmacies must not display them in-store nor advertise them but do permit them to sell Plastic Straws online. 

4. The ban on straws on beverage cartons comes into force from 3rd July 2021. 

5. Ban includes all Biodegradable and Compostable products meaning customers who are currently using PLA will need to switch to Paper or Plastic as the option for “on request”. 

6. Plastic drink stirrers will be banned for supply to end-users from 6th April 2020. There are no exceptions to this, and anyone displaying, selling or offering a plastic drinks stirrer will be guilty of an offence. 

7. Plastic Straw Ban reviewed after 12 months to review effectiveness and impact on those with disabilities.


Anyone identified displaying or having plastic straws visible in their establishment or anyone offering a plastic straw that has not been requested is guilty of an offence and can be prosecuted. In addition, anyone displaying, selling or offering a plastic drinks stirrer will be guilty of an offence. The penalty will be either a compliance notice or a fine of up to 10% of annual turnover. 

What does this mean for my customers and me? 

The ban will be effective from 1st October 2020. Therefore, you will not be permitted to sell (other than plastic straws for accessibility needs) those listed above (Plastic Straws, PLA Straws, Plastic Drink Stirrers & Cotton Buds). This means you need to be in a position to offer an alternative product to those you currently supply.


The ban announced is a slightly watered-down version of what was expected in that Plastic Straws are still permitted under certain circumstances. How this is policed is still to be determined, but fines will likely be implemented for those not adhering to the new law. On plastic Drinks Stirrers, it is clear. You cannot offer these in any way, shape or form after 1st October 2020.


Please, if you wish to learn more, click here.