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Anti-straw movement gaining momentum in Canada

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Thursday, December 21, 2017, 5:53 PM - Plastic waste is a huge problem.

It continues to clog our oceans, with researchers suggesting there are more than 5 trillion pieces of it swirling in the water. The largest source comes from discarded fishing nets, but a heavy presence of plastic bags, straws and bottles is also present. Smaller pieces appear to be getting eaten by fish and travelling up the food chain. 

Curbing the use of plastic can be a challenge, both to city planners and individuals trying to minimize their impact on the environment.

One solution, some activists say, is to start small, like with a straw. It's a movement that's gaining momentum across the world, and Canadians seem to have taken notice.

That's a good thing, given the fact that an estimated 1 billion non-recyclable straws are used daily.

Seattle, Washington has announced its plans to ban non-compostable cutlery and straws in 3,100 food service establishments in July 2018. In the UK, the City of Cornwall is hoping to become the first county in the region to out-right ban plastic straws.

And in January 2017, India's capital city Delhi banned the use of all single-use plastics, including straws.


Canadian consumers take note

According to a recent report by the Canadian Press, a growing number of Canadians are skipping straws at food establishments.

The largest Canadian retailer to jump on the trend is Boston Pizza, which switched to biodegradable straws in January 2017.

“Across our 380 restaurants in Canada, each restaurant might go through an average of maybe over 120,000 straws a year. So that’s a huge impact,”  company spokesperson Alexandra Cygal told the Press.

Will banning plastic straws make a difference?

So why single out straws when we live in a world that's practically drowning in plastic waste?

“We have to start with something simple, accessible and inspirational to get as many people on board as possible,” actor and activist Adam Grenier, ambassador to the environmental group the Lonely Whale, told reporters at a United Nations conference in October.

“Instead of asking people to change their entire life, start with something small, such as stop using single-use plastic straws.”

It's estimated that 8 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since the 1950s and research suggests it will take up to 500 years for some forms to biodegrade.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only 8% of the total plastic waste generated in 2010 in the U.S. actually made it to recycling plants. The other 92% was shuffled off to landfills or found its way into the water.

Sources: Strawless Ocean | Final Straw Cornwall  | The Independent


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