Plastic straws set to be banned – what you need to know

Plastic straws could be banned across the UK as early as next year, with the Prime Minister declaring that plastic waste was "one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world". This is likely to affect retailers, cafes, restaurants and canteens all over the country - so what are the facts and what can you do?

 

Why a ban on straws?

8.5 billion plastic straws are used and thrown away in the UK every year and there is currently 150 million tonnes of plastic in our oceans, killing 100,000 sea mammals every year.

Laws designed to reduce our use of plastic have been well received in the past, with a 9 billion reduction in plastic bags since a 5p charge was introduced - a reduction of 85 - 90%.

A ban on microbeads is already underway and by 2020, there could be an introduction of a plastic drink bottle deposit scheme. It's fair to say that reducing plastic is something the UK is committed to.

 

When will the ban happen?

The ban is scheduled to become law in 2019, and will happen in different UK countries at different times. There will be a consultation held later this year on England's ban on plastic straws, and it will consider the needs of those who rely heavily on plastic straws, such as people with particular disabilities.

Scotland are further along in proceedings, and are likely to be the first UK country to ban straws. They are hoping to ban plastic cotton buds at the same time, and may add other single-use plastic products to the list.

 

How are businesses reacting to the news?

Unlike most bans, this one has been very well received by the public and business owners alike. Consumers are constantly seeking environmentally friendly products and brands, and this has pushed businesses to make a change.

60 music festivals have chosen to ban plastics straws at their events this year, and many other large companies are making the change from plastic to paper, or are only providing plastic straws on request.

Wetherspoons, Buckingham Palace and Holyrood have already banned plastic straws, and McDonalds, Burger King, Ikea and Waitrose have announced their plans to phase out plastic straws from their stores.

 

So, how does this affect me?

Retailers, cafes and restaurants have been encouraged to find alternatives to plastic straws as soon as possible, rather than wait until the ban comes into effect, which could be as soon as next year.

Paper, metal and other materials can be used instead of plastic, so keep an eye out for alternatives. If you aren't ready to phase them out entirely, try only providing them on request to reduce how many your customers use.

Here at Snowshock, we've already taken a step in changing our straws with our edible straws - a UK first and far better for the environment than plastic. Our straws come in Strawberry, Lemon, Lime and our new addition, Chocolate (perfect for a Frappino). You can give them a try now - saving the planet never tasted so good! We will be announcing shortly our plans to replace our plastic straws altogether.