The Government has announced plans to ban the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds in England and has urged Commonwealth countries to take the same steps.
Prime Minister Theresa May used the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to ask other Commonwealth countries to take the same measures to protect against plastic pollution.
A consultation will now be launched later this year to assess the feasibility of the plan and to begin working with suppliers and industry leaders to develop alternatives.
The Prime Minister said: “Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world, which is why protecting the marine environment is central to our agenda at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
“The UK Government is a world leader on this issue, and the British public have shown passion and energy embracing our plastic bag charge and microbeads ban, and today we have put forward ambitious plans to further reduce plastic waste from straws, stirrers and cotton buds.
“The Commonwealth is a unique organisation, with a huge diversity of wildlife, environments and coastlines.
“Together we can effect real change so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it.”
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “We’ve already seen a number of retailers, bars and restaurants stepping up to the plate and cutting plastic use, however it’s only through government, business and the public working together that we will protect our environment for the next generation – we all have a role to play in turning the tide on plastic.”
Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “It is important that the Government follows up by going beyond phasing out plastic stirrers, cotton buds and straws, for those who don’t need them.
“Other non-recyclable ‘problem plastic’ should also be banned at the earliest opportunity.”
However, the announcement does not come without criticism, as many believe the ruling Conservative party is taking too long to implement their proposed plans.
Labour shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman said: “The Government has failed to bring forward a single piece of primary legislation on any of their announcements on the environment, farming or animal welfare since the last election.
“With the UK leaving the EU in less than 12 months, there is a worrying lack of preparation to reassure the public that environmental standards won’t suffer.”