Press Release Wednesday 7th December 2016

MAJOR UK RETAILERS TAKE STEPS TO END SOURCE OF PLASTIC SEWAGE-RELATED DEBRIS ON OUR BEACHES

  •  Seven major retailers have agreed to phase out plastic cotton buds by the end of 2017 following concern over the number that are ending up on our beaches.

  •  Plastic cotton buds have been identified as the number one item of plastic, sewage-related debris on our coastline.

  •  Animals, birds and fish are harmed by accidentally consuming plastic cotton bud sticks, often with fatal consequences. The plastic can also act as a sponge for chemical pollutants.

Two environmental organisations, City to Sea and Fidra, have been calling for retailers to phase out plastic-stemmed cotton and switch to paper to cut down the amount of plastic ending up on our beaches and in our rivers. City to Sea's 'Switch the Stick' campaign has also been supported by over 150,000 members of 38 Degrees. To the delight of all, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons and BootsUK have communicated their commitment to ensure their own label cotton bud products will be made with paper stems by the end of 2017.

A Tesco’s spokesperson commented: “We’re committed to ensuring all of our own label cotton bud products will be made with paper stems, and will do this by the end of 2017.”

Similarly, a Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We have been working hard to improve this product. Our new cotton buds, with 100% biodegradable stems, will be available before the end of 2017.”

An Asda spokesperson said: “This is an area where we’re working hard to make a difference and we’re pleased to confirm that all our own brand cotton buds products will be made with paper stems by 2017.”

And an Aldi spokesperson said: "As a responsible retailer, we are committed to removing plastic from our cotton buds by the end of 2017.”

Natalie Fee, City to Sea founder: “We’re delighted with the commitment from so many major supermarkets to ‘Switch the Stick’ from plastic to paper stem buds. Whilst they still shouldn’t be flushed, this move will stop millions of plastic stems ending up in the marine environment each year and is a huge win in the fight against marine plastic pollution.”

Dr Clare Cavers, Research Officer from Fidra's Cotton Bud Project: “Johnson & Johnson and Waitrose pledged to change to paper cotton buds in Spring this year, and we are very pleased to see other retailers following their lead. Plastic pollution in our seas is a major problem, so by making this positive change, we are a step closer to cleaner oceans.”


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