UK government has suspended the ban of single-use plastic items including straws, stirrers and cotton buds due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced in a statement that the ban has now been delayed from the end of April until October.
"Given the huge challenges posed to businesses by coronavirus, we have confirmed we will delay the introduction of our ban on plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds until October 2020," Defra's spokesperson said in a statement.
"We remain absolutely committed to turning the tide on the widespread use of single-use plastics and the threat they pose to our natural environment.
"This ban is yet another measure to clamp down on unnecessary plastic so we can better protect our precious wildlife and leave our environment in a better state for future generations."
The environmental activists and organisations, including Greenpeace, criticised the delay.
Louise Edge, plastics campaigner at Greenpeace, told Financial Times: "The country has said no to pointless plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds and the sooner they are banned, the better."
Following the news that the government is delaying the ban Environmental Audit Committee chairman Phillip Dunne MP 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."
Anti-plastic campaign organisation A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian Sutherland wrote on Twitter: "I can see no real need for us to continue to pollute our planet any longer than necessary. We are not talking PPE here but plastic cotton buds and stirrers that the UK public agreed should be banned. I'm sure anyone involved in healthcare would want to protect our planet too."