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The Final Straw - The Truth About Plastic Straws

 

 

CONTENTS

If at some point in the last week you’ve turned the TV on, listened to the radio or flicked through a newspaper I’m sure you’ve come across at least one story or article that discusses single-use plastics. They’re a hot topic of debate at the moment and they have quickly turned into public enemy number one.The humble plastic straw is one product that is currently under fire. But what’s the big deal? Surely that flimsy plastic straw that you get with every juice, smoothie and cocktail can’t be that bad, can it?Well, it turns out it can!Our use of mass plastic is a gigantic problem that has been building for some time. Plastic straws make up a significant portion of the single-use plastics that we consume each year. When you consider that billions of single-use plastic straws are used each and every day, you can begin to understand why many people are calling for a ban of plastic straws.

 

THE PROBLEM WITH PLASTICtarget

What is it about plastic straws that makes them so bad for the environment? It turns out it’s a couple of things.

Plastic straws are, by definition, made from plastic. The thing about plastic is that it never breaks down. Over time the straw that you used for 5 minutes to drink your smoothie or soft drink will separate into smaller and smaller pieces. But that straw will never completely biodegrade. This means that our environment is littered with microplastics.

These microplastics are particularly prevalent in marine environments, and our oceans are heavily littered with an array of plastics. When you stop to consider that the Australian mainland has almost 36,000 km of coastline you can begin to understand how single-use plastics have the potential to significantly impact our way of life.

It is estimated that 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with some form of plastic in their stomachs. Even worse, the survival rate of these animals is only 50%. These stats paint a stark image of the impact that single-use plastics, like straws, can have on the environment.

The single-use nature of straws adds another level of environmental impact to the equation. The useful life of a straw ends as soon as one of your customers finishes their drink. The straw that was just used for 5 minutes will now sit in landfill for hundreds of years to come.

It’s clear that there are two main problems with plastic straws. The first issue is the simple fact that they are produced from plastic. The second problem is the single-use nature of plastic straws.

 

SO WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?target

Enough of the doom and gloom. By now it’s obvious that single-use plastics are having a massive impact on our environment. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps that can help tackle this problem head-on.

The hospitality industry is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to plastic straws. Take a moment to stop and think about how many straws your venue has served to customers over the last week. When you consider that a fast food franchise serves a straw with every drink, a cafe pops a straw in every milkshake or juice, and a bar includes a straw with most cocktails, it’s easy to see how many straws get thrown out every single day.

The good news is that, as an industry, we have the unique opportunity to start wholesale change within society. Plastic straws are a convenience that we don’t need and there are modern alternatives that can easily replace them.

Naturally Biodegradable Strawstarget

Straws that are made from organic materials are a great alternative to traditional plastic straws. Typically made from paper, these straws are single-use just like plastic straws. The difference is the natural materials used in manufacturing these straws are compostable and will break down easily once they are disposed of.

Paper straws are a great starting point when making the transition away from plastic straws, but they are still single-use items with a very short usable life. Venues that are looking to wholeheartedly promote sustainability and free themselves completely from single-use products have several other alternatives they can use. You can shop our range of paper straws right here.

 Organic/Natural Strawstarget

If only straws grew on trees. Well, they do…. kind of. Bamboo straws are gaining popularity and for good reason. Bamboo straws are made entirely from natural resources and can be reused time and time again. Both of these features make bamboo an attractive plastic-free alternative to a normal straw. The good news is that bamboo contains a naturally occurring antimicrobial agent that provides resistance to bacteria. This ensures these straws are a hygienic alternative for your patrons.

Metal Strawstarget

Metal straws are another great alternative option that can be reused time after time. Commonly made from 304 stainless steel, these straws are rust resistant and will serve your business well for many years to come. Thanks to the qualities of stainless steel these straws can safely be used to drink both hot and cold beverages.

Glass Strawstarget

For consumers that are used to plastic straws, it may seem unusual to be served a drink with a glass straw in it. But these straws have the potential to be the best alternative to single-use plastic straws. Unlike a metal straw, glass straws don’t have the potential to add a slight metallic aftertaste to drinks. Glass straws are manufactured to be robust, but care still needs to be taken when washing and storing them, just like you would with any other glass item.

Silicone Strawstarget

Many parents have reservations about giving their child a hard metal or glass straw due to the risk of a child biting the straw and injuring themselves. Silicone straws are ideal for young children because the soft material can be chewed without fear of breaking or causing damage.

 

HOW PERTH VENUES ARE DITCHING THE PLASTIC STRAWtarget

Getting rid of plastic straws is a big decision for any business in the hospitality industry. At first, it might appear that you need to make drastic changes to your business operations but the good news is that small changes can have a big impact.

Several local venues that we supply have already made the switch towards a plastic-free future. Here’s how they did it. Over the past 4 months, one of these venues has seen a 90% drop in plastic straw consumption. Patrons are constantly commenting about what a great idea it is, which goes to show that consumers are fully supportive of any change a venue is willing to make.

Top tips on how to ditch the plastic straw:

  • Many venues serve drinks with a straw included in every single order. Make a conscious decision to serve drinks without a straw. If customers ask for a straw you can give them one, but encourage them to reuse it. One a night is enough!
  • Keep plastic straws out of reach behind the bar where only staff can access them.
  • Make the switch to paper straws instead.
  • The Last Straw has some great resources for any businesses that are interested in making a positive change away from plastic straws.

 

If you want to take things even further and really make an environmental statement then there is no better example than The Raw Kitchen. Every aspect of this venue has been designed and implemented in order to have the least possible impact upon the environment. Waste minimisation is an overriding ethos that has seen The Raw Kitchen remove as much plastic as possible from their kitchen and restaurant.

All drinks at The Raw Kitchen are served with a reusable stainless steel straw. This simple act helps The Raw Kitchen to save over 20, 000 plastic straws from being thrown out each year. Imagine the positive impact that could be felt if more venues jumped on board!

The Raw Kitchen is a shining example of ecological ethos being incorporated into the hospitality industry. We don’t expect every restaurant and venue to go to the lengths that The Raw Kitchen has, but they serve as an example of how environmental awareness is compatible with the hospitality industry. The Raw Kitchen, The Asby Bar & Bistro and The Gate Bar & Bistro all show how easily implemented changes to 'normal' protocol can help kickstart positive change.

 

A SMALL ACT, A BIG DIFFERENCEtarget

When push comes to shove, the decision to ditch plastic straws is going to be a case of when not if. Society is becoming increasingly conscious of the environment and for good reason. Making the decision to remove plastic straws from your hospitality venue is a small but significant decision. This simple change can help to kick-start mass societal change and will help to preserve our oceans and natural environment for years to come.

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