Ban on the supply of single-use plastic straws and plastic stemmed cotton buds (England)

14th October 2020

The Environmental Protection Regulations (Plastic Straws, Cotton Buds and Stirrers) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 1 October 2020. It bans the supply of plastic straws and plastic stemmed cotton buds to customers in England, after a transitional period unless exemptions apply. The ban applies to all businesses supplying these products, including manufacturers and retailers, such as community pharmacies, and has been introduced as a measure to reduce single-use plastic waste in order to protect the environment and marine wildlife.

 

What does this mean for community pharmacies?

After 1 October 2020, the following exemptions apply for community pharmacies to allow supply of single-use plastic straws and plastic stemmed cotton buds.

The exemptions that apply to community pharmacies are:

  1. Registered pharmacies exemption

Community pharmacies (including distance selling pharmacies) can supply these at the premises or online, as long as the below criteria are met:

    • Must not be advertised on the pharmacy premises; however, if a pharmacy has an online presence the product can be displayed on the website
    • Must not be visually placed or freely accessible to customers
    • Must not be offered or provided unless requested by a customer
  1. Medical devices and purposes exemption

Community pharmacies can these if it is being used by a health professional, or under the direction of a health professional, for medical purposes, or if they are defined as a relevant device

    • A health professional includes a registered pharmacist or registered   pharmacy technician
    • A relevant device, is defined in Regulation 3 of The Environmental Protection Regulations (Plastic Straws, Cotton Buds and Stirrers) (England) Regulations 2020, and Regulation 2 of The Medical Devices Regulations 2002
  1. Exemptions for forensic or scientific purposes
    Community pharmacies can supply these to a forensic service provider, or for scientific purposes (diagnostic, educational or research purposes)

Transitional period for businesses, including community pharmacies

  • Until 1 April 2021: Single-use plastic straws and plastic stemmed cotton buds can be supplied/sold to customers if they were purchased by the community pharmacy before 1 October 2020, therefore, the exemptions do not apply
  • Until 3 July 2021: Single-use plastic straws attached to drinks packaging can be supplied/sold, therefore, the exemptions do not apply

 

Please note the following:

  • The ban on the supply of single-use plastic straws and plastic stemmed cotton buds applies to end-users, pharmacies can continue to supply businesses requesting these products
  • Single-use straws and plastic stemmed cotton buds made from other material or reusable alternatives can still be sold – some paper straws use adhesives containing plastic within the inner lining which are considered an acceptable alternative to plastic drinking straws
  • Community pharmacies may receive inspections from their local authority and fines may be imposed if found in breach of the regulations.

 

FAQS

  1. Can I supply nutritional drinks which come with an attached straw, for example, Ensure plus liquid?

Yes, nutritional drinks which come with an attached single-use plastic straw can still be supplied to customers, if they are supplied as products with a medical purpose, and under the direction of a registered pharmacist or registered pharmacy technician.. This supply can be made beyond 3 July 2021.

 

  1. I have existing stock of single-use plastic straws and plastic stemmed cotton buds; do I have to dispose of them now that these products are banned from supply to customers?

Products obtained prior to 1 October 2020 can be supplied to end-users until 1 April 2021; however, after this date, they can be supplied only to other businesses, or under the specific exemptions which apply to community pharmacies.

 

Further reading:

 

Please contact the Pharmacy Services team for further advice and support:

  • Telephone: 01727891800 (Mon-Fri 9am to 6pm, Sat 9am to 1pm)
  • Email: pharmacyservices@npa.co.uk