Will the UK ban plastic straws, which companies have already banned them and what are the best plastic-free options?

Will the UK ban plastic straws, which companies have already banned them and what are the best plastic-free options?


TODAY is International Plastic Bag Free Day 2019, but just how far is the UK going to ban single use plastic?

Plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds will be banned from April next year –  but what does it mean for you? Here's what we know so far.

What is the UK plastic straw ban?

The Environment Secretary Michael Gove revealed that eight in ten responses from the public back a ban on the sale of plastic straws, nine in ten supported a ban on drink stirrers and cotton buds.

They will be banned in England as part of Mr Gove’s mission to tackle pollution and protect the environment.

Exemptions will allow those who need to use plastic straws for medical reasons or a disability to buy them from registered pharmacies or request them in restaurants, pubs and bars, and the use of plastic-stemmed cotton buds for medical and scientific purposes.

Food and drink outlets will not be able to display plastic straws or automatically hand them out.

The Government’s response to the consultation, published on Wednesday, reveals that more than 80 per cent of respondents back a ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws, 90 per cent a ban on drinks stirrers, and 89 per cent a ban on cotton buds.

Why is the ban being brought in?

Around 8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away each year, potentially contributing to over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans.

It is estimated that 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used each year in England.

Around ten per cent of cotton buds are flushed down toilets, often ending up in waterways and oceans, the Government said.

In 2018 Theresa May urged Commonwealth leaders gathered in London to follow the UK's example with a sweeping ban.

The move also follows new rules introduced in 2016 ago forcing customers to pay a 5p charge for plastic bags, which drastically reduced the number of bags being used.

In December 2018, Gove put forward plans to increase the 5p charge to 10p and extend the charge to all retailers.

What are the best plastic-free options?

There are four main plastic-free straw options that have a much healthier effect on the planet's pollution problem.


The most popular choice, which many restaurants and cafes have opted for, is the bamboo option.

Bamboo straws are reusable drinking straws that biodegrade. They are made from whole bamboo, which is an easy to grow, sustainable crop.

These eco-friendly, plastic free straws can be used in hot and cold drinks and they don’t taste of anything.

Wheat straws

Wheat straws is a newfound concept that provides a great option for single use.

They're made of wheat, so they don't go mushy. Each one is 100 per cent natural, and biodegradable.

And not to mention, they're gluten free too.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel straws come in a range of metallic colours, and are all dishwasher safe.

These straws come with both a bent shape or a straight option.

Glass straws

These pretty straws with coloured ends are BPA free, eco-friendly, dishwasher safe and shatterproof.

They're a little on the heavy side when comparing to the bamboo option, but these get the job done too.

What has Michael Gove and Theresa May said about the ban?

Mr Gove said: “Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment.

"These items are often used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down, ending up in our seas and oceans and harming precious marine life.

“So today I am taking action to turn the tide on plastic pollution, and ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations.”

In 2018 Theresa May dubbed plastic waste as "one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world" and added that the UK was taking a lead in tackling the problem.

She said: “Protecting the marine environment is central to our agenda at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

“The UK government is a world leader on this issue, and today we have put forward ambitious plans to further reduce plastic waste from straws, stirrers and cotton buds.

“The Commonwealth is a unique organisation, with a huge diversity of wildlife, environments and coastlines.

“Together we can effect real change so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it.”

Which companies are banning plastic straws?

McDonald's replaced plastic straws with paper ones in all its UK and Ireland restaurants in September 2018.

The restaurant chain uses 1.8m straws a day in the UK.

"Reflecting the broader public debate, our customers told us they wanted to see a move on straws," the firm said.
This decision came after a successful trial in selected restaurants earlier this year. The full global move to paper straws will be completed next year.

Wetherspoon's already ditched plastic straws across its 900 pubs in the UK and Ireland.

Since January 2018, all of the company's pubs use biodegradable paper straws instead.

Wagamama also stopped providing them to customers across its 128 UK restaurants.

It's now only handing them out on request or with juices that need stirring.

Costa Coffee and sandwich chain Pret A Manger also took action against plastic.

Both said they will be replacing their plastic straws with alternatives in 2018.

Wagamama also ditched plastic straws from its restaurants in 2018.

Glastonbury banned single-use plastic bottles from the festival site this year.

Companies that have or are set to ditch the plastic

  • Starbucks (phaseout)
  • McDonald's (September 2018)
  • Pizza Express (Summer 2018)
  • Wagamama (Earth Day – April 22, 2018)
  • Hyatt (On request only from December 2018)
  • American Airlines (July 2018)
  • Alaska Airlines (phaseout)
  • Bon Appetit (September 2018)
  • Four Season hotel group (April 2018)
  • All Bar One (mid-2017)
  • Hilton Hotels (end of 2018)
  • JD Wetherspoons (beginning of 2018)
  • Pret a Manger (aims to be totally plastic free by 2025)
  • Iceland supermarket (aims to be totally plastic free by 2023)


What has the EU said about banning plastic?

Brussels plans to ban a number of plastic items, including straw, plates and single-use cutlery by 2021.

The European Commission's proposed ban will cover ten products that along with discarded plastic fishing gear account for 70 per cent of all marine litter.

The initiative, announced on May 28, 2018, will prohibit items the commission believes could be replaced with sustainable materials.

It is estimated that Europe generates 25.8m tonnes of plastic waste annually, of which less than 30 per cent is recycled, 31 per cent ends up in landfills and 39 per cent is incinerated.

Source: Read Full Article