UK pub chain, JD Weatherspoon which has over 900 outlets across the country have become the latest victualler to stop offering plastic straws to customers. They have announced they will only use biodegradable paper straws from January 2018 in a move it claims will stop 70 million plastic straws entering landfill or making their way into the world’s oceans each year. At the same time, they will also stop automatically including straws to drinks they serve, "although they remain available for customers if requested". The announcement sees, JD Weatherspoon join a small but growing list of retailers who are stopping the use of plastic straws, in response to both feedback from customers and staff (who have to clear away hundreds at the end of the night) but also a campaign known as Refuse the Straw which began in the USA but is now going global.
Speaking at the announcement, Chief executive of John Hutson, JD Weatherspoon stated: "These changes are part of an overall commitment from the company to reduce the amount of non-recyclable waste produced. We believe that Wetherspoon pub-goers will welcome this."
It will join other pub brands including All Bar One and Laine Pub Company, who have also banned plastic straws. Last year, Bacardi, one of Weatherspoon’s biggest suppliers, implemented a ban on plastic straws and stirrers from all of its company events.
Oakman Inns announced a ban in April, with chief executive with Peter Borg-Neal telling press: “It sounds ridiculous, but it is entirely accurate to say, that every plastic straw that was ever made, still exists today. They pollute landfills, rivers, roadsides, sewers, beaches and of course oceans and this relatively small amount that this pub group is taking out of circulation, needs to be repeated by every one of my colleagues across the hospitality industry.”
Campaign Group, The Last Plastic Straw state that; “In only the past twenty years, people have come to expect plastic straws in every drink, in an example of extreme waste being generated for minimal convenience. These short-lived tools are usually dropped into a garbage can with no further thought, instantly becoming a source of plastic pollution.”
500 million straws are used and discarded every day in the United States alone - that’s 175 billion a year filtering into landfills and often then finding their way into littering our waterways and oceans. These straws take up to 500 years to decompose.
Entanglement, ingestion and habitat disruption all result from plastic ending up in the spaces where animals live. In our oceans alone, plastic debris outweighs zooplankton by a ratio of 36-to-1. Even plankton, the tiniest creatures in our oceans, are eating microplastics and absorbing their toxins. This plastic then displaces nutritive algae that creatures up the food chain require.
Editor's comment: Let's hope this small trickle of retailers becomes a landslide and further companies become involved - McDonalds who use millions of straws a day, we are looking at you!
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