(Photo: VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

Community pharmacy contractors have been advised to stop the supply of single use plastic straws or single-use plastic stemmed cotton buds.

Under new law, it is now an offence for businesses to supply, or offer to supply single use plastic straws or single-use plastic stemmed cotton buds.

However, there are two key exemptions for community pharmacies.

First, the restriction does not apply to the supply of any of these products by a healthcare professional, including a pharmacists and a pharmacy technician, for medical purposes.

Second, retail pharmacies may supply single use plastic straws if they are not advertised or kept where customers can see/access them, but are only offered or provided to customers who request them.

Existing stock of all these products purchased before April 30 may be supplied until the end of the current month.

The ban on supplying plastic straws waste recycling conveyor and stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds came into force in England on October 1, in a fight against single-use plastic waste to protect the environment.

Environment secretary George Eustice said: “Single-use plastics cause real devastation to the environment and this government is firmly committed to tackling this issue head on.

“We are already a world-leader in this global effort. Our 5p charge on single-use plastic bags has successfully cut sales by 95 per cent in the main supermarkets, we have banned microbeads, and we are building plans for a deposit return scheme to drive up the recycling of single-use drinks containers.

“The ban on straws, stirrers and cotton buds is just the next step in our battle against plastic pollution and our pledge to protect our ocean and the environment for future generations.”

Just one month after ministers confirmed the single-use plastic bag charge would be increased to 10p and extended to all retailers, the commencement of the ban is expected to further ensure the country builds back greener.

The government will also introduce a new world-leading tax on plastic packaging which does not meet a minimum threshold of at least 30 per cent recycled content from April 2022 to encourage greater use of recycled plastic.

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