As it should be a surprise to nobody, plastic straws are SO yesterday. The debate about plastic straws has been in the spotlight since the spring and continues to rage on. Good news is that major corporations and governments from all over the world are taking notice and taking action to reduce their disposable plastic usage.
To put it simply, the world has a plastic problem. With more than 300 million tons of plastic being produced globally each year, only 10% of it is recycled. Consequently, eight million tons of plastic ends up in the oceans every year. This means that there is 150 million tons of plastic in the world’s oceans, resulting in over 100 million marine animals deaths related to plastic pollution annually. At this rate, scientists predict that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.
Though banning plastic straws isn’t the be-all, end-all solution to the world’s plastic problem, it’s a simple start. In the US alone, 500 million plastic straws are used every single day. By starting with a plastic product that is small, and most of the time unnecessary, these changes will hopefully snowball into more drastic changes in one-time use plastics. Similarly to the ban of plastic bags, soon the lack of plastic straws at your local coffee shop will feel like no big deal.
On the brightside, many governments and multinational corporations have taken a stand against plastic straws and other single-use plastics. So far, 28 countries have banned or taxed single use plastic bags and straws seem to be next. So, who’s banned straws so far?
In Canada, Vancouver is the first major city to ban single-use straws from restaurants. This law will come into effect in the fall of next year. Meanwhile in the States, as of July 1st, the city of Seattle has banned plastic straws from all food-service facilities. New York City has proposed legislation and aims to eliminate them by 2020. Furthermore, smaller jurisdictions, primarily coastal regions, such as Malibu and Miami Beach, have also banned retailers from selling plastic straws and utensils to consumers.
Some of the world’s largest businesses have taken note as well. Just this July, Disney declared that it would drop plastic straws and stirrers from all parks, resorts, and cruises. In the sky, American Airlines is the first airline company to follow the straw ban trend. Even Starbucks is getting rid of their iconic green straws by 2020.
With 40% of ocean plastic being single-use plastic, there could be a significant change in the ocean if the world minimizes its production and consumption of these products. Countries such as Britain, Scotland, Chile, India, and Taiwan, are at the forefront of this shift as they all plan to ban all single-use plastics in the next decade. At the end of the day, the ban on plastic straws isn’t really about straws. It’s a starting point for a conversation about consumerism, conversation, and the elimination of single-use plastic.