This has prompted an outcry from the Environmental Audit Committee, a Commons select committee.

The ban was meant to come into force this month in England and had received widespread public support.

A public consultation, published in May 2019, shows that over 80% of respondents backed a ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws, 90% a ban on drinks stirrers, and 89% a ban on cotton buds.

Exemptions under the ban will ensure that those with medical needs or a disability can still access plastic straws.

The ban is now expected to come into force in October 2020.

Philip Dunne, chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: “It is very disappointing that the government has delayed the ban on plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds.

“These items when made from plastic are virtually impossible to recycle, so they end up in landfill or are dumped, jeopardising the environment and wildlife both on land and when they reach the sea.

“The UK is a world leader in environmental protection.

“While it is completely understood that the response to coronavirus should dominate government resources currently, it is crucial that the pandemic does not threaten progress being made with relatively straightforward steps to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.”

England uses an estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers, and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds each year, many of which end up in waterways and oceans.

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