The Scottish government says that Marine Conservation Society surveys constantly list plastic cotton buds in the top 10 forms of beach litter.

Cunningham says that banning plastic cotton buds would be a clear sign of Scotland’s ambition to address marine plastics.

“Despite various campaigns, people are continuing to flush litter down their toilets,” Cunningham says. “This has to stop.

“Scotland’s sewerage infrastructure collects and treats some 945 million litres of wastewater each day. These systems are not designed to remove small plastic items such as plastic buds, which can kill marine animals and birds that swallow them.

“These products are completely unnecessary as biodegradable alternatives are readily available. The need for action is clear and I would encourage everyone with an interest in safeguarding our natural environment to take part in the consultation when it opens.”

Scottish environmental charity Fidra has been working with industry to promote biodegradable alternatives.

Alasdair Neilson, project officer at Fidra, which runs The Cotton Bud Project, adds: “This progressive step will be welcomed by everyone who has seen cotton buds polluting our beaches and harming our wildlife.

“A ban would support the responsible businesses that have already removed this single-use plastic item from their shelves. Let’s hope it also marks a bigger shift in the way we use and value plastics.”

The proposals will be put to public consultation in due course.