Scotland has become the first part of the UK to ban the sale of cotton swabs.

New regulations came into force prohibiting the manufacture and sale of articles as part of measures to reduce plastic waste.

Environmental activists at the Marine Conservative Society, who have cleared more than 150,000 plastic sticks from Scotland's beaches over the last 25 years, hailed this initiative as a "fantastic victory" for the sea ​​and wildlife.

The ban comes at a time when the regulations, passed by the Scottish Parliament in September, come into force.

A ban on the sale and manufacture of micro-plastic beads is already in force and was introduced in June 2018.

Roseanna Cunningham, Scottish Secretary for the Environment, said: "I am proud that the Scottish Government has become the first British administration to ban plastic swabs.

"Single-use plastic products are not only a waste, but they generate unnecessary waste that damages our beautiful beaches and green spaces while threatening our wildlife on land and at sea.

"This prohibition builds on the work already under way to tackle the scrap culture in Scotland and we will continue to take steps to solve other problems in the coming years as part of our efforts to reduce harmful plastics and single-use products and protect our environment. and develop a flourishing circular economy. "

Ms. Cunningham added, "We are facing a global climate emergency and we must all work together to reduce, reuse and recycle to ensure a sustainable future for the present generation and for the next."

Catherine Gemmel, of the Marine Conservative Society, said her volunteers had "picked up over 150,000 plastic sticks on Scottish beaches over the last 25 years, so that the coming into effect of this ban represents a fantastic victory for our seas and our wildlife. "

She added: "We look forward to more ambitious action from the Scottish Government and work with it on the additional actions needed to stop the tide."

Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, also called the ban "good news for wildlife".

He said: "Cotton swabs are among the most common forms of marine pollution. A ban is welcome and a step that we hope other countries will follow.

"We know that plastic stifles our seas and devastates our wildlife. Millions of birds, fish and mammals die every year from the effects of plastic in our oceans.

"Plastics are also found in the food we eat and the water we drink to preserve our oceans will require ambitious action from governments, industry and consumers."