Information on the Government plans to ban plastic straws
As you may know the Government has been consulting over its plans to ban single-use plastic straws. SIA actively participated in the consultation in order to ensure that they took into consideration the difficulties that a total ban would have on people with spinal cord injury (SCI). We, along with others, were able to convince the Government that it would have an unjustifiably negative impact on SCI people who need access to plastic straws in order to maintain their ability to drink independently. The government has now published its proposals for banning plastic straws. The ban on plastic drinking straws is planned to come into force in England in April 2020. Whilst the proposals are not ideal for the SCI community, they do contain exemptions that will ensure that we continue to have access to plastic straws. The key exemptions for people with SCI are:
The sale of plastic straws will be restricted to registered pharmacies. However they will be able to sell them both in-store and online. Importantly people with SCI will not be expected to “prove” that the straws fulfil an access need, so if anyone does experience being asked for this kind of proof please let us know (with details of the pharmacy concerned) and we will take this up. SIA raised concerns that limiting the sale to pharmacies only would reduce the amount of competition in the market and potentially lead to an increase in the price of straws. The government recognised this and committed to monitoring the situation. We also suggested that straws be made available on prescription, recognising that most people with SCI are entitled to free prescriptions. Unfortunately the government were not convinced to take up this initiative.
Hospitality outlets will be permitted, but not compelled, to keep a stock of plastic straws out of public view that would be made available on request. Once again there is no requirement for people with SCI to “prove” that the straws fulfil an access need. We recognise that this is not ideal because
- some people may be uncomfortable with having to explicitly ask for straws;
- plastic straws may not be available in all hospitality outlets.
Unfortunately, there is little that SIA can do about the first point. However we do intend to explore whether a hospitality outlet that absolutely refuses to keep a stock of plastic straws even after they have been requested to do so may be liable to a disability discrimination claim.
Hospitals, care homes and any other care setting will be exempt from the ban.
SIA will continue to monitor the implementation of the ban to ensure that no one living with SCI is unreasonably disadvantaged by its enforcement.
The table below is shared from Hell on wheels, @rollwthepunches