Fidra and Johnson & Johnson Ltd Joint Statement on the UK Government’s Decision to Launch Consultation to Ban the Sale and Manufacture of Plastic Stemmed Cotton Buds

Cotton buds 

 

UK Government announces a consultation to ban plastic stemmed cotton buds

 

We are very encouraged by the UK Government's decision to launch a consultation to ban the sale and manufacture of plastic stemmed cotton buds. The announcement illustrates the Government's continued commitment to tackle the pressing problem of plastic pollution.

A Johnson & Johnson Ltd spokesperson stated:

“We fully support the proposal to reduce the use of plastics in cotton buds in the UK. We recognise that our products have an environmental footprint. That’s why we worked with Fidra last year to remove the plastic sticks from our cotton buds and replace them with 100% paper instead. One year later we are immensely proud to have been one of the first companies in the UK to transition away from plastic stems.”

This decision follows the Scottish Government announcement in January that they intend to ban the sale and manufacture of plastic stemmed cotton buds. The consultation on this proposal will be launched at the end of April, and we highly encourage people to respond.

Alasdair Neilson from Fidra, the environmental charity that runs the Cotton Bud Project commented:

"We are delighted to hear this news. Plastic cotton bud stems are found littering beaches across the UK. Industry leaders, like Johnson & Johnson, have lead the way and have shown that change is possible. The UK Government's announcement is a small but significant step in the fight against plastic pollution.”

Cotton buds are one of the top ten most common litter items found blighting UK beaches. They find their way to sea when mistakenly flushed into the sewage system. The Marine Conservation Society's 2017 Great British Beach Clean survey found, on average, 26.9 cotton buds for every 100m of British beach.

In addition to being aesthetically displeasing, plastic cotton bud stems also pose a significant threat to marine life. The risk of plastic debris to animals through ingestion is well documented, and cotton buds have been found in the digestive systems of seabirds and turtles. Whether paper or plastic-stemmed, cotton buds should never be flushed, but the impact of paper stems will be much lower if they do find their way to the sea.

Fidra looks forward to working with industry and the UK Government throughout the consultation process.


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