Drinks giant joins the war on plastic straws
First it was plastic bags. Now they’re coming for straws and coffee stirrers.
The nation’s biggest maker and distributor of soft drinks has declared it will no longer distribute plastic drinking straws or stirrers, and will instead stock fully recyclable and biodegradable FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) accredited paper straws.
Coca-Cola Amatil, whose brands include Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta, Mount Franklin water, Kirks, Canadian Club and Barista Bros, said the decision was another step forward in the company’s efforts to reduce single-use plastics.
“We’re serious about playing our part in reducing unnecessary plastic packaging,” chief executive Alison Watkins said yesterday. “We’ve heard the community message loud and clear — that unnecessary packaging is unacceptable and we all need to work together to reduce the amount entering litter streams, the environment and the oceans.”
The war on plastic straws comes after environmentalists and activists pushed supermarkets to eliminate single-use plastic bags in their stores last year, which triggered widespread confusion, frustration and a drop in sales for leading chain Woolworths as shoppers struggled to adapt.
McDonald’s has said it will phase out plastic straws in Australia by next year, while Starbucks has pledged to get rid of plastic straws from its stores within two years.
Environment groups say Australians use 10 million straws every day, or 3.5 billion a year. Greenpeace Australia wants to see an end to all single-use plastic.
However, an inquiry called by the federal government 10 years ago revealed that less than 0.2 per cent of landfill was made up of plastic bags and that penalising people by charging them for bags was uneconomic and an ineffective way to reduce litter.
The Productivity Commission inquiry, released in 2006, found the case to phase out plastic bags was “particularly weak’’, with the policy of charging money for plastic bags similarly unsound.
CC Amatil said its new paper drinking straws would be made available to about 115,000 outlets nationwide. Distribution of the old single-use plastic drinking straws and stirrers would cease as stocks run out over the next two months, the company said.