UK-based PPE manufacturer Polyco has provided biodegradable FSC-certified paper stems to supermarket chain Waitrose as an alternative to plastic-stemmed cotton buds, to help tackle pollution.
The cotton buds are reported to be used by millions of people to clean ears or apply make-up and are finally flushed away only to enter and pollute the marine ecosystem.
Polyco household national account manager Karen Wigglesworth said: “Our client came to us with a concern and, together, we came up with a response. We have done this first project with Waitrose, but we are also talking to other retailers about doing something similar."
Waitrose plans to sell only paper-stemmed cotton buds from September, which will be equivalent to taking out approximately 21t of plastic from its health and beauty business.
Scotland-based environmental charity FIDRA has started the Cotton Bud Project to address the current environmental issue of plastic cotton bud stems in marine litter.
FIDRA research officer Clare Cavers said: "Polyco’s work on the development of an alternative stick has been of huge importance in making this significant step of Waitrose possible.
"We hope that other companies will follow the lead of both Waitrose and Polyco in working towards reducing plastic in our seas.”
Image: Cotton buds. Photo: courtesy of shahram sharif / Wikipedia.