Drinks giant joins the war on plas­tic straws

The Australian - - THE NATION - ELI GREENBLAT

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.

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