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Plastic straws- to ban or not to ban - Scan2know

The last year has seen many establishments getting rid of plastic straws, with one of the biggest names to join the crusade against them being Mcdonalds (they began phasing out plastic straws in the UK and Ireland in September 2018). With the fast-food retailer using 1.8 million straws a day in the UK alone, this change has come as a relief to eco-conscious individuals. The UK government has also introduced new rules to ban them by April 2020. It’s certainly a welcome sign of shifting consumer demands although there are fears that a ban is just a giant act of greenwashing. 

Straws only make up about 4% of plastic pollution by item numbers, and a lot less than that by weight. So why the push to ban them? In 2015 a video went viral showing a straw being removed from a turtles nose in graphic and bloody detail. Videos like these caused a passionate and emotional stance against straws. This isn’t to say that banning straws is only an emotional response. For many, there is hope that banning straws is just the start of single-use plastics being phased out for alternative solutions. 

Boston Tea Party, a UK coffee chain, as well as swapping plastic straws for paper ones, banned all disposable coffee cups from their stores and many are hoping that more establishments will follow suit. This move may have got the chain extremely positive publicity, but it also saw sales fall by £250,000. However, they had planned for this loss, and their owner Sam Roberts is encouraging other coffee shops to join them, saying that too many are “putting profits before the planet.” 

Not everyone is a fan of the plastic straw ban. Donald Trump has famously started selling Trump Straws, with their description reading, “liberal paper straws don’t work.” These are made from plastic and are meant to be recyclable but experts are wary as to how true this is. The straws area clear response to complaints that the most common alternative, paper straws, are not fit for purpose as they start to disintegrate after a while. 

The other issue is that this ban hurts disabled people as many rely on plastic straws. Alternatives, like metal straws, can be hazardous and paper ones can dissolve too quickly for those who need more time to consume their drinks. Because of this, the UK government has put in place plans for plastic straws to be available from registered pharmacies. 

It really seems like the conclusion is to just realise that straws are not all that necessary for most of us. If you really want to use one, and can’t stand the paper ones being offered, look into getting your own. Metal straws are now widely available and can add an extra touch of sophistication. And most importantly, let’s realise that this ban can’t allow us to get complacent, it’s only the start.

Get in touch to find out how scan2know can tell you more about how to avoid contributing to plastic pollution. 

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