Every day, around 500 million disposable straws are used and thrown away. This is enough to fill 127 school buses or wrap around the circumference of the planet two and a half times. However, this figure is set for a drastic decline. Now, thanks to campaigners, the UK’s Environment Secretary Michael Gove will announce a nationwide ban on plastic straws – according to the Daily Mail.
The ban will permit everything from bars and eateries to beverage shops and supermarkets from selling straws made from plastic, encouraging them to stock paper-based, reusable, or no straws instead. The ban doesn’t include takeaway packaging made from plastic or non-biodegradable resources.
The Daily Mail reports staff at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are working on the details of a ban, which is expected to be officially announced sometime in the next few months. The ban could be fully implemented before the end of this year and would apply to England, not Wales or Scotland.
Recently the Queen worked with environmentalist David Attenborough on a documentary that showcased the true cost of plastic on marine life. Taking it upon herself to make changes, her Royal Highness banned all plastic straws and bottles from Buckingham Palace and other royal estates.
Plastic straws are one of the most prevalent items in beach or other rubbish clean-ups. Every straw takes upwards of 500 years to break down into smaller plastics, known as microplastics. These straws and other single-use plastic waste cause pollution problems for cities and the ocean.
Some land animals, but mostly marine creatures, ingest plastic, whether by accident or mistaking the floating debris for food. Fish, whales, dolphins, turtles and more also become easily trapped and strangled by plastic. Corals are eating plastic, and so are humans who eat seafood.
“For most of us they’re just a convenience; for wildlife they are killers. The plastic straws we use and throw away so carelessly are lethal. They embed themselves in the noses of sea turtles, block the throats of dolphins and choke fish.” Gove aptly wrote in the Evening Standard last month. “All this so that humans can empty their glasses more quickly.” He adds if straws were banned, there would be “scant reason to reinvent them”.