- Published on 17 October 2019
Plastic cotton buds—for long used inadvisably for ear cleaning—have been banned by the Scottish Parliament.
Presented in September, the bill outlawing the use of plastic for the stems of cotton buds came into effect this week. The English parliament is expected to follow the measure with legislation from April 2020.
According to UK government figures, approximately 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used in England on an annual basis.
"This ban builds on work already underway to address Scotland’s throwaway culture," says Scotland’s environment secretary, Roseanna Cunningham.
“Single-use plastic products are not only wasteful but generate unnecessary litter than blights our beautiful beaches and green spaces while threatening our wildlife on land and at sea,” said Ms Cunningham.
"This ban builds on work already underway to address Scotland’s throwaway culture, and we will continue to take action on other problematic items in the coming years as part of our efforts to reduce harmful plastics and single-use items, protect our environment and develop a thriving circular economy,” she added.
The ban was welcomed by environmental campaigners at the Marine Conservative Society, who have cleared around 150,000 plastic cotton bud sticks from beaches in Scotland over the past quarter of a century. Catherine Gemmell, conservation officer at the organisation, said the regulation is a “fantastic win” for Scotland’s “seas and wildlife.”
Other materials, such as paper, will still be used to make cotton buds, but the dangers of their use for cleaning ears is constantly warned against by hearing health experts, with the National Health Service in the UK stating that you should "never" try to remove earwax with a cotton bud, your fingers or any other object.
Source: The Independent