The Last Straw: What is Britain Doing to Reduce the World's Plastic Waste?

By SME Insurance

Posted 02/05/18

Prime Minister Theresa May recently announced her intention to ban all single-use plastics, including straws, from the UK by next year. However, many businesses have already started to commit to reducing their plastic waste by phasing out plastic straws [1].

This move will help the UK do its bit to slow down the world’s plastic pollution. Billions of plastic straws are thrown away in the UK every year – contributing towards the 150million+ tonnes of plastic already in our oceans – an amount which is anticipated to treble in the next ten years [2] [3]. An estimated 100,000 sea mammals and 1million seabirds die every year as a result of plastic waste. But plastic waste is not just bad for the environment- it could be dangerous for us too. Recent studies suggest that 90% of bottled water and 83% of tap water is` contaminated with plastic fibres [4] [5].

Most straws, used for a mere matter of minutes, will take hundreds of years to decompose. The typically used polypropylene straw can be recycled for other products – in Japan they are often reused in packaging, plastic tiles and even stationery – but this rarely happens in the UK [6]. 

Not everyone is happy with the ban, which has the potential to make it difficult for thousands of people with some types of disabilities to drink without assistance.  So it is still important to find a more suitable reusable option than the current alternatives such as paper and metal straws, none of which are suitable for use with hot drinks [7]. However, until a suitable alternative is found it is thought that there will be medical exemptions from the ban [8].

The UK has already started to take steps to reduce its plastic pollution, with the banning of microbeads in personal care products, the plastic bag charge and a recent announcement that the government will be introducing a deposit return schemes for drinks containers in England [9].

So, join the many businesses across the UK who have decided that it’s the “last straw” and see what you can do to reduce your plastic waste. Check out this handy guide to for some tips.

 

Sources

 1 https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/3030506/plastic-war-theresa-may-moves-to-ban-straws-cotton-buds-and-coffee-stirrers

2 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43825197

3 http://www.theweek.co.uk/92449/ocean-plastic-to-treble-within-10-years

 4https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/15/microplastics-found-in-more-than-90-of-bottled-water-study-says

5 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/06/plastic-fibres-found-tap-water-around-world-study-reveals

6 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-43485362  

7 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42915440

8 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43820199

9 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/09/plastic-microbeads-ban-enters-force-in-uk

Posted 02/05/18

Author: SME Insurance

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