Plastic straw makers brace for bans

Plastic straw manufacturers are bracing for big changes. The tide is turning against their product.Cities and ...

Posted: Feb 23, 2018 7:14 PM
Updated: Feb 23, 2018 7:14 PM

Plastic straw manufacturers are bracing for big changes. The tide is turning against their product.

Cities and countries around the world are stepping up pressure on businesses and consumers to ditch the plastic drink accessory because of the pollution it causes. Research shows there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the world's oceans by 2050, and straws are a major factor because the vast majority are never recycled.

The European Union is pushing for many single-use plastic products, including straws, to be barred across its 27 member states by 2030. Some countries may move much faster than that.

"I want to do everything we can to restrict the use of plastic straws and we're exploring at the moment if we can ban them," UK environment secretary Michael Gove told Sky News on Friday.

The Scottish city of Glasgow last month banned the use of plastic straws in municipal buildings. Seattle is banning them starting in July. If restaurants want to serve drinks with straws, they'll have to use biodegradable alternatives.

Major UK restaurant chains, including Pizza Express and Wagamama, have already stopped using them.

They are trying to fight pollution on an enormous scale. The Marine Conservation Society estimates that 8.5 billion single-use plastic straws are thrown away every year in the UK alone.

Most are not recycled and many end up in waterways and, ultimately, in the oceans. Plastic straws are now among the top 10 waste items found on beaches.

Related: Would you pay a tax on coffee cups?

The rapid shift in opinion against their products have left many plastics companies scrambling for solutions.

Plastico, a leading manufacturer of plastic tableware in the UK, has started selling straws made from alternative materials, such as paper and plant-based substances. Drinkstuff, a catering equipment retailer, saw a dramatic increase in demand for more environmentally friendly straws last year, spokesman Buzz Seager told CNN.

But cost is a big issue. "The price differences between disposable plastic straws and eco alternatives are still a barrier to venues adopting them," Seager said.

John Sidanta, the founder and CEO of Primaplast, said straws made from biodegradable plastic are currently five to six times more expensive than standard plastic products. While "clearly good for the environment," a plastic straw ban would have "consequences for food service business operators," he added.

One of the biggest global suppliers of plastic straws is Tetra Pak. It did not respond to a request for comment.

Related: Is this the beginning of the end of plastic?

The manufacturers say outright bans are not the answer and would hurt people who need straws, such as people with disabilities, kids and the elderly.

"[Plastic] is a good material and very useful material, the problem is waste collection and the lack of recycling," said Plastico CEO Caroline Wiggins.

To help solve the problem, Plastico has recently started offering to take back waste from its customers.

Rob Hall, the director of Dispo, a company that makes disposable catering items, said improving waste collection would be a better solution than a ban.

Dedicated bins and educating the public on how to sort waste correctly -- for example by removing paper cup lids, straws and any remaining liquids or food before putting them in the recycling bins -- would be a start, he said.

The British Plastics Federation also said that other measures "represent a better choice than unqualified bans which fail to take account of important societal uses of products or possible unintended consequences."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 497790

Reported Deaths: 9917
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34102530
DeSoto31839398
Hinds31837622
Jackson24314377
Rankin21881388
Lee15427234
Madison14525279
Jones13772241
Forrest13412250
Lauderdale11937314
Lowndes10934185
Lamar10470135
Pearl River9431237
Lafayette8454138
Hancock7697126
Washington7365156
Oktibbeha7111129
Monroe6727174
Warren6642176
Pontotoc6609101
Neshoba6606205
Panola6460131
Marshall6386132
Bolivar6266145
Union596094
Pike5784152
Alcorn5633101
Lincoln5417134
George491879
Scott470998
Tippah465381
Prentiss464181
Leflore4627143
Itawamba4596104
Adams4570119
Tate4546109
Copiah445191
Simpson4421116
Wayne438572
Yazoo438586
Covington427394
Marion4216107
Sunflower4215104
Coahoma4115104
Leake407787
Newton380879
Grenada3692108
Stone358464
Tishomingo356391
Attala330289
Jasper328265
Winston313191
Clay306375
Chickasaw296767
Clarke290694
Calhoun277945
Holmes266987
Smith262550
Yalobusha232647
Tallahatchie225251
Walthall217763
Greene215548
Lawrence211140
Perry204755
Amite203954
Webster201645
Noxubee185340
Montgomery179056
Jefferson Davis170642
Carroll167438
Tunica158639
Benton147438
Kemper141241
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131237
Humphreys129038
Franklin119128
Quitman106227
Wilkinson104539
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 812694

Reported Deaths: 15142
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1139601904
Mobile721751321
Madison51923685
Shelby37240339
Baldwin37044538
Tuscaloosa34902599
Montgomery33919719
Lee23122240
Calhoun22125469
Morgan20620370
Etowah19739496
Marshall18238298
Houston17288405
St. Clair15897337
Cullman15297290
Limestone15178198
Elmore15038284
Lauderdale14125294
Talladega13692271
DeKalb12554258
Walker11069364
Blount10081174
Autauga9883146
Jackson9776177
Coffee9176188
Dale8856180
Colbert8781200
Tallapoosa7032195
Escambia6725127
Covington6672179
Chilton6580160
Russell624758
Franklin5927105
Chambers5558142
Marion4952126
Dallas4854199
Clarke472681
Pike4716105
Geneva4558126
Winston4461101
Lawrence4252117
Bibb421686
Barbour355374
Marengo333989
Monroe329962
Randolph324763
Butler323994
Pickens313581
Henry310565
Hale308787
Cherokee299457
Fayette290579
Washington250851
Cleburne245958
Crenshaw243375
Clay239767
Macon230662
Lamar215446
Conecuh185351
Coosa177738
Lowndes173161
Wilcox167038
Bullock151744
Perry138040
Sumter131138
Greene125544
Choctaw86627
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