Plastic cotton buds banned by Sainsbury’s and Tesco to help reduce waste

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The two supermarket chains will replace plastic sticks with paper ones by the end of next year

Two of the UK’s largest supermarket chains have decided to stop selling plastic stem cotton buds, after it was revealed as one of the most common items to be flushed down the toilet, resulting in them ending up on the beaches, or in the sea.

Sainsbury’s and Tesco will replace the plastic stem on the cotton bud with paper ones on their own branded products by the end of 2017.

Plastic cotton buds banned by Sainsbury's and Tesco to help reduce waste

Tesco and Sainsbury’s to replace plastic cotton bud stem with paper ones © Copyright Robert Edwards and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Asda, Boots and Morrisons are currently thinking about banning plastic, whereas the Co-operative, Johnson & Johnson and Waitrose are also going down the paper stem route.

The changes have been made following a growing campaign which now boasts 130,000 supporters.

Our plastic products turn up in the ocean and can be extremely harmful to marine life and for those who enjoy eating seafood, they too could end up eating bits of plastic. It’s been estimated that there’s around 5tn plastic pieces floating around in the sea all over the world.

However, with the introduction of the government’s 5p plastic bag charge, the number of plastic bags ending up on the beach fell by over half this year.

Plastic microbeads, which can be found in many of the toiletries we use are to be banned by Ministers, as these are known to end up in the ocean.

Founder of the City to Sea campaign to cut plastic pollution, Natalie Fee, said: “We’re delighted with the announcements to ‘switch the stick’ from plastic to paper stem buds.”

She also said that the new paper cotton buds should still not be flushed down the toilet but the change over from the plastic stems is a positive environmental step forward.

Emma Cunningham from the Marine Conservation Society, praised the supermarkets for their change over to paper buds but would still like to see ‘don’t flush’ labelling on cotton bud packaging, to stop consumers from throwing them down the toilet.

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