Sainsbury's says it will go one step further than replacing the plastic stems of its own-brand cotton buds with paper ones: it will also switch the plastic-based adhesive to a biodegradable one.
The supermarket adds it 'hopes' to introduce the plastic-free glue at the same time as ditching the plastic stems this year, which together would cut 50 tonnes of plastic from production annually, and to make the 'Do Not Flush' warnings on its packaging more prominent.
Flushing plastic-based cotton buds down the toilet causes serious problems and has been getting worse: the Marine Conservation Society's 2016 Big Beach Clean Report found an average of 24 cotton bud sticks for every 100 metre-stretch of beach in the UK, more than double the number recorded in 2012.
Plastic pollution campaign group City to Sea has welcomed the announcement: "Preventing plastics from reaching the ocean is essential for ensuring the health of our marine wildlife and also from stopping plastics entering the food chain," says City to Sea Founder Natalie Fee.
"It's great that retailers have agreed to switch the stick, but this move from Sainsbury's goes even further to protect our oceans."
Sainsbury's, which sells over 300 million own-brand cotton buds every year, says it will share the details of its new biodegradable adhesive to encourage other manufacturers to replace the plastic too.