Global fast-food chains to phase out use of straws

The Star Malaysia - - World -

BEI­JING: As global fast-food chains and cof­fee shops be­gin phas­ing out sin­gle-use plas­tic straws and stir sticks, both ma­jor sources of pol­lu­tion, en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists in China say govern­ment sup­port is needed to en­sure such ef­forts can help clean the world’s oceans.

McDon­ald’s China in­tro­duced a “straw­less” lid for cold bev­er­ages at 10 Bei­jing restau­rants on Nov 1. Din­ers also will not re­ceive plas­tic straws un­less they specif­i­cally ask, ac­cord­ing to a new com­pany pol­icy aimed at re­duc­ing plas­tic waste.

In July, Star­bucks also vowed to stop us­ing sin­gle-use plas­tic straws at more than 28,000 out­lets world­wide.

Data from the US Ocean Con­ser­vancy’s In­ter­na­tional Coastal Cleanup, which or­gan­ises vol­un­teers to re­move trash from the world’s water­ways, showed that al­most 409,000 plas­tic straws and stir sticks were re­cov­ered by volun- teers from 112 coun­tries in 2016.

In 2015, a dis­turb­ing video of sci­en­tists at­tempt­ing to res­cue a tur­tle with a 12cm plas­tic straw stuck in its nos­tril off the coast of Costa Rica went vi­ral on­line.

Non-degrad­able plas­tics are a ma­jor source of pol­lu­tion. Sci­en­tists es­ti­mated in a pa­per pub­lished by Sci­ence in 2015 that as much as eight mil­lion met­ric tonnes of plas­tic waste could be flowing into oceans each year.

Like many con­sumers, Wu Yan­mei, a bank clerk in Bei­jing, had never thought about the im­pact a sim­ple straw could have on the en­vi­ron­ment.

“Ac­tu­ally, I don’t like us­ing straws, but the cups at fast food restau­rants are all de­signed for use with a straw,” she said. “I don’t think straws are nec­es­sar. This is a good way to raise aware­ness of not us­ing sin­gle-use plas­tic prod­ucts.”

How­ever, Jiang Jian­guo, a pro­fes- sor of en­vi­ron­men­tal stud­ies at Ts­inghua Univer­sity, said he doubts such ac­tiv­i­ties alone can have a ma­jor ef­fect on the global pol­lu­tion prob­lem.

“Com­pared with other plas­tic prod­ucts, straws ac­count for only a small pro­por­tion of pol­lu­tion. It’s more ur­gent to re­duce larger plas­tic trash like bot­tles by con­trol­ling pro­duc­tion and en­hanc­ing laws and reg­u­la­tions,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.