As the EU moves away from Plastic straws and a plastic based hospitality industry The EU has legislated to remove plastic straws from circulation and moved to start the removal of other plastic alternatives that are similarly harmful such as PLA straws and even some paper straws. However, these restrictions can be confusing. When will they come into effect and what are your alternatives? in this article I'll layout the law, some good alternatives, what this means for the future, and why straw by straw is safer than any other alternative.
On The 27th of March 2019, The EU legislated to ban single use plastics including plastic cutlery, cotton buds, plates, and straws, massively impacting the hospitality industry. The law comes into effect in mid 2021 from around May till July depending on your country. McDonald's predicts millions of tons of waste will be saved from existing by the ban and it follows a 2019 campaign to ban straws for the advancement of climate change, after focus awareness campaigns showcased the increasing impact and public anxiety of plastics in our ocean and plastic production on emissions. While not flawless, the law's passing was seen by many as a huge step on the way to reducing plastic usage in the EU and the European Commission has clearly set out their goal of moving to massive amounts of recyclable and non-plastic products by 2025 and 100% recyclable packaging by 2030. The EU even made the claim that the products banned currently represent 70% of the waste poured into our oceans, although they did not provide hard proof of this and Greenpeace has challenged it.
Furthermore, Both the EU and the UK have moved towards banning biodegradable plastics in the future, alternatively known as PLA. Qhile the U.K government has set up a Board of standards to test that the straws can be biodegradable, the EU and the UK have both specifically said that they are interested in banning biodegradable alternatives in the future due to the fact that they are not always disposed of in an appropriately industrial setting, where many of them need to go to be broken down. Therefore, overall it isn’t very sustainable to jump into a deal or regular purchase of PLA, and to be the eco-friendliest, you should be looking for alternatives. However, this is not as easy as it sounds. Most straws have an abundance of problems. From the frequent stealing of metal straws to the taste ruining of paper straws, there is no easy answer – until you try Straw by Straw’s wheat straws!
But more on that later. Here at Straw by Straw we think now is the perfect time to re-emphasize the reason we’re getting rid of straws in the hospitality industry. To save the oceans! In 2015, Germany, France, the U.K. and Italy alone used 18.5 Billion plastic straws. 18.5 billion pieces of plastic in the ocean! As quoted from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, “The most visible and disturbing impacts of marine plastics are the ingestion, suffocation and entanglement of hundreds of marine species. Marine wildlife such as seabirds, whales, fishes and turtles, mistake plastic waste for prey, and most die of starvation as their stomachs are filled with plastic debris.” Further than this, oceans affected by plastic can hurt economies adversely – from tourism to simple hobbies like diving, to fishing, to sports and so much more. Europe’s consumption of plastic was, as with the rest of the world, way too high, hence why this ban has come into place. As we transition away from a plastic world, with plastic filling our everyday lives, remember that with every eco-friendly alternative you use you are saving fish life, coral reef, our beautiful landscapes, even people’s livelihoods! You can read more about why our reduction of plastic is so important here.
But as for alternatives, Straw by Straw is the safest. While some countries are allowing restaurants to keep plastic straws behind the bar for disabled people, we feel this isn’t fully necessary. Our product is soft enough to be safe and malleable enough for a disabled person’s drink, and unlike paper straws isn’t a choking hazard. Metal straws can be extremely dangerous due to their inflexibility, as can glass; paper can be downright unpleasant due to the fact that they’re extremely flexible and have a certain taste, and others are just way too expensive! You can read a further evaluation of the benefits and disadvantages of different types of straws here!
If you’d like to make small but powerful changes to your restaurant/café/bar/hotel and consider some plastic alternatives, Straw By Straw might be the place to start. Every day we use thousands of plastic straws around the globe. Why continue with that when there are millions of straws growing in nature every year?
If you’re a venue or events organiser considering taking on our solution, please feel free to contact us via e-mail on ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ or on mobile at +31648142608.