Straw Wars: Single-Use Plastic Bans Are Spreading Worldwide
How many times have you used, or seen a plastic straw in the last week? Just think about this. Single-use plastic straws are everywhere. If you purchase a drink from almost any restaurant – what do you drink it with? What about if you order a smoothie from a café? Indulge in a fast-food order what does the drink come with? You get the drift...
We have become reliant on the convenience that single-use plastic straws offer. Buying a drink, grabbing a plastic straw, and then throwing it away without a second thought afterwards is a common habit. Thankfully, conscious consumerism is a growing trend.
What happens to that plastic? Where does it go? What impact does it have on the environment? These are all issues not everyone considers, but are each hugely important. Luckily, the world's governments are starting to take note and make a change – single-use plastic straws should hopefully (and rightfully so) become a thing of the past in the not too distant future. In this article, we look at what measures are being taken to reduce the production and usage of this pollutant item.
The Plastic Straw Debate
Plastic is everywhere. Our world is plagued with single-use items – we have become a throw-away society that is hugely wasteful. This plastic is clogging our oceans and causing environmental damage. The below are some important notes about single-plastic usage.
Mind-boggling single use plastic straw statistics
To help show the enormity of this issue, we have gathered some jaw-dropping plastic statistics about the usage and production of single-use plastic straws – take a look and let these figures sink in:
- 8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away each year in the UK alone
- Approximately 500 million plastic straws are used in the US each DAY
These are ridiculous numbers. What makes these figures even worse, is that straws are something that we don’t even need. It is perfectly easy to drink a beverage without using a straw. A straw is not a necessity.
Above: 4Ocean clean up on a beach in Bali, Indonesia
An ever-mounting plastic problem
Plastic straw usage is part of a much wider problem. Single-use plastic straws only account for a small percentage of the world’s plastic production and usage. This form of plastic product has come to the limelight however because of its unnecessary nature, and the blasé way in which we use them. If we can tackle the issue of plastic straws, this should hopefully pave the way for wider reformation and an overall reduction in other plastic products too.
Countries That Will Ban Plastic Straws
It would appear that plastic are at the forefront of many governments environmental plans. The below is a host of examples of current bans, or plans to outlaw the use and production of plastic straws in the future:
European Union – plan to ban single-use plastics
In October 2018, the EU parliament voted on a complete ban on single-use plastics including straws. The ban has been backed and proposals have been drafted. This ban should hopefully come to fruition and take effect no later than 2021. Considering the volume of people and businesses this ban would cover, the proposal is a monumental one. Imagine the European continent without single-use plastics?
United Kingdom – 25 year plan to eliminate plastic waste
In January 2018 the UK government outlined a plan to eliminate plastic waste completely within the next 25 years. First up was to reduce the usage of microbeads in cosmetics. Second, the prime minister announced plans and discussions to ban plastic straws, plastic cotton buds and plastic drink stirrers. Retailers and food chains are already taking this on board. For example, McDonalds are starting to phase out the use of plastic straws across its 1300 outlets in the UK and replace them with paper types.
Taiwan – a blanket ban on plastic waste by 2030
Taiwan has made the world take note with its impressive total ban on single-use plastics. This far-reaching proposal will outlaw the use of plastic straws, bags, cups and utensils plus other plastic items by 2030. The plan is set to be implemented in phases. The first phase is to ban restaurants from using plastic straws. After this, by 2020, plastic straws will be banned completely. If other nations can take this approach, we could see a radical reduction in plastic pollution in the next decade.
United States – Malibu and Seattle lead the way
Whilst there is no countrywide plan in the US as such, many individual states and cities are taking matters into their own hands.
In Malibu CA, for example, the city has banned the distribution, sale and use of single-use plastic straws and cutlery – this took effect in June 2018. In addition to this, Seattle has also imposed a plastic straw ban that started in July 2018. Other cities and states including New York, Hawaii, Washington, New Jersey and Florida are also currently attempting to tackle the issue of plastic straw pollution.
New Delhi, India – Single-use plastic ban
India is a country that is notorious for its pollution and waste problems. We have all seen the pictures of streets lined with plastic waste. Surprisingly, the city of New Delhi looks to change that. In 2017, all forms of single-use plastic including straws were completely banned. This ban affects over 20 million people and will hopefully push other areas of India to make similar steps.
Costa Rica – Nationwide single-use plastic ban
This is possibly one of the most impressive steps a country has taken. Costa Rica is set to be the first nation to totally ban single-use plastics including straws, cups and bottles. This extremely eco-friendly country is set to become single-use plastic free no later than 2021 – this is a fantastic achievement indeed.
As you can see, change is imminent. The world’s leaders have accepted that we cannot continue on this self-destructive path of plastic over-production. Single-use plastic straws will hopefully be the first of many plastic products to be phased out of existence. The world needs to work collectively to solve this... and quickly. Consumers can do their bit by not accepting plastic and refusing the straw. There are now lots of reusable and sustainable alternatives on the market including bamboo straws and metal straws.