Scotland ban announced for plastic cotton buds

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The sale and manufacture of plastic-stemmed cotton buds is to be banned under new Scottish government plans.

The move follows concerns about the number of buds being washed up on beaches after being flushed down toilets.

Most major retailers have already switched to paper-stemmed buds following a campaign but plastic ones are still being sold.

Hundreds were recently found on Gullane Beach.

The environmental charity Fidra, which runs the Cotton Bud Project in East Lothian, believes there are several hundreds of brands being imported from China and sold by smaller retailers.

It found hundreds of buds on a 100m stretch of shore at Gullane in a recent beach clean.

The proposal to introduce a ban will now be put to public consultation.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: "Banning plastic cotton buds would be a clear sign of our ambition to address marine plastics and demonstrate further leadership on this issue.

"Despite various campaigns, people are continuing to flush litter down their toilets and this has to stop.

"Scotland's sewerage infrastructure collects and treats some 945 million litres of waste water each day. These systems are not designed to remove small plastic items such as plastic buds which can kill marine animals and birds that swallow them.

"These products are completely unnecessary as biodegradable alternatives are readily available. The need for action is clear and I would encourage everyone with an interest in safeguarding our natural environment to take part in the consultation when it opens."

In 2017 the pharmaceutical firm Johnson and Johnson became the first major manufacturer to switch away from plastic.

All the major supermarkets have followed suit by either switching to biodegradable paper or committing to doing so.

Waitrose has estimated to have saved 21 tonnes of plastic through the policy.

Alasdair Neilson, who runs The Cotton Bud Project, said: "This progressive step will be welcomed by everyone who has seen cotton buds polluting our beaches and harming our wildlife.

"A ban would support the responsible businesses that have already removed this single-use plastic item from their shelves. Let's hope it also marks a bigger shift in the way we use and value plastics."

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