Many pub and takeaway chains in the UK, including McDonald’s, have introduced voluntary bans on plastic straws for paper alternatives. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds could be banned in the UK as soon as next year.

The Environment Secretary, Mr Gove, says only legal enforcement will protect the country's environment from the scourge of throwaway plastic.

Many pub and takeaway chains, including McDonald’s, have introduced voluntary bans on plastic straws and most supermarkets have swapped plastic stems on cotton buds for paper alternatives.

But Mr Gove will say that the country ‘needs to do more’, adding: ‘Our precious oceans and the wildlife within need urgent protection from the devastation throwaway plastic items can cause.

‘Today we step up our efforts to turn the tide on plastic pollution and ensure we leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it.’

Greenpeace UK’s political adviser Sam Chetan Welsh welcomed today’s move, saying: ‘If we are to protect our oceans from the scourge of plastic, the flow of waste needs to be cut off at the tap.’ 

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