In England, a ban on disposable plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds has come into effect.
The measure, originally scheduled for early April, makes it illegal for businesses to sell or supply the items.
People in England use around 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds every year.
Environmental activists welcomed the ban but called for a crackdown on more single-use items.
An exemption will allow hospitals, bars and restaurants to supply plastic straws to people with disabilities or medical conditions that require them.
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Environment Secretary George Eustice said the government is “firmly committed” to addressing the environmental “devastation” caused by single-use plastics.
Activists welcomed the move, but said the articles made up only a “fraction” of the plastic waste that litter the environment.
Sion Elis Williams of Friends of the Earth said ministers “must also do more to challenge our throwaway culture by forcing a shift away from all single-use materials in favor of reusable alternatives.”
Tatiana Lujan, of the environmental law charity ClientEarth, said straws, cotton buds, and stirrers were “some of the most useless plastics out there” and the ban was “child’s play”.
But they remained “a small fraction” of single-use plastics, he said, adding that countries like Ireland and France have “shown much more ambition” with goals on reusable packaging and deposit return systems.
Eustice said the government is “building plans” for a deposit return system to encourage the recycling of single-use beverage containers.
The Welsh government said it is also considering a similar ban on plastics.
Several national restaurant chains ditched plastic straws before the ban was announced.