Update (1 Oct, 2020):
From today, a ban on supplying plastic straws and stirrers, and plastic-stemmed cotton buds will be in force in England. "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," said environment secretary George Eustice. The government did, however, make it clear that people with disabled people and those with medical conditions will be able to request plastic straws from pubs and restaurants and also purchase them at pharmacies. The news on single-use straws, stirrers, and cotton buds comes after ministers confirmed a 10p increase for the charge off single-use plastic bags.
The UK government announced that another aim to further reduce plastic waste is to introduce a new tax on plastic packaging, which does not meet a minimum threshold of at least 30 percent recycled content from April 2022
Original Post (22 May 2019):
Good news! As of next year, cotton buds, plastic straws, and drink stirrers will be banned (or have widely restricted availability) in England.
Beginning in April 2020, bars, cafes, and restaurants are required to seek alternatives in their stores, and these plastic items will not be readily available to consumers. Although a total ban will not be introduced for straws — due to those with medical conditions or disabilities highlighting how critical they are — they won't be readily available for all. Government conversations regarding this ban have been in talks for a year now, but after an estimated use of straws going from a current 4.7 billion will fall to 44 million with the new restrictions, a set timeline was introduced. Cotton buds will be restricted to the general public with an 89 percent ban.
That doesn't mean cotton buds are gone for good. You'll still be able to buy paper and bamboo ones — they just can't be plastic. The ban is definitely a move in the right direction in reducing unnecessary single-use plastics. In the meantime, there are plenty of other easy ways you make your beauty routine more environmentally friendly.