Sustainability Now: The Flaws of Plastic Straws

By Sabine Samarawickrema
Sep 28, 2018 12:35 PM ET

Originally published by the Daily FT

We all are used to them since our childhood, we see them every day when we visit a restaurant, bar or buy juice drinks at a grocery store: Plastic straws. Despite being small, they are one of the major contributors to plastic pollution on land and in the sea.

Large corporations such as Starbucks, Bacardi Rum, Marriott Hotels, Alaska Airlines, and American Airlines have promised to phase out their plastic straws, cities such as Seattle have banned all plastic utensils including straws from bars and businesses in the entire city, San Francisco followed and also banned plastic straws with beginning of July 2019. 

Where it is true that straws are only a small piece within the large pile of plastic trash we have accumulated, they are also a product which we don’t really need. Therefore, they are a good starting point to reduce plastic pollution. The Business Insider reported some weeks back that in 2015 plastic consumption worldwide totalled 300 million metric tonnes, which means that each of the 7.6 billion humans on this planet, is making 88 pounds of plastic waste per year. At the same time, the packaging industry is still growing. Also, more than 79% of all plastic waste ends up in landfills or in the environment, another 12% gets burned in incinerators and only 9% gets actually recycled (according to a 2017 report published in Science Advances). These are highly frustrating statistics. It can only mean that we should not focus on recycling only, we should start at the beginning of the consumption process and not USE certain products in the first place.

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