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

14 Oct 2020

From 1 October 2020, businesses including community pharmacies are to stop supplying these products to customers, unless exemptions apply

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