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

The new rules, which prohibit the sale and manufacture of plastic cotton swabs, have been introduced to reduce plastic waste.

Environmental advocates, the Marine Conservative Society, whose volunteers have cleared more than 150,000 plastic swab sticks from Scottish beaches over the past 25 years, hailed this initiative as a "fantastic victory" for the sea and wildlife.

CAMDEN, NJ - FEBRUARY 8: Ronald Ford Jr. is holding a cotton swab used for DNA testing at City Coffee on February 8, 2006 in Camden, New Jersey. Customers who want a confidential DNA test, starting at $ 550, can have their mouths scrubbed in the cafe. The swab is then sent to a lab and results are available within 24 hours. Unlike a court-ordered DNA test, which is a public record, the city's coffee test is confidential. (Photo by William Thomas Cain / Getty Images)
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Rules prohibit the sale and manufacture of plastic cotton swabs

Catherine Gemmel, of the group, said: "We look forward to a more ambitious action from the Scottish Government and a collaboration with it on the additional actions needed to stop the tide."

The Scottish Parliament took the decision to ban plastic cotton swabs in September – a ban on the sale and manufacture of plastic microbeads has been in effect since June 2018.

Scottish Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham described single-use products, such as cotton swabs, as "wasteful" and a plague for green spaces and beaches.

"In the coming years, we will continue our actions to reduce harmful plastics and single-use products, protect our environment and develop a flourishing circular economy.

"We are facing a global climate emergency and must all work together to reduce, reuse and recycle to ensure a sustainable future for the current and future generations," she added.

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

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

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