THE STRAW FACTS
Something we take for granted whenever we order that thirst-quenching orange juice or that ice cold latte on a hot sunny day. Imagine having 3 drinks a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year...that's already close to 800 per person per year.
THE PLASTIC TRUTH
THE BIO CONFUSION
UK : BBC reported that at least 8.5 billion plastic straws were used each year in the fast food industry alone.
US : National Park Service reported that Americans use 500 million straws a day.
AUSTRALIA : ABC News reported 3.5 billion straws a year.
And what are these one-time use straws made out of?
The component that is so essential in our lives, yet we struggle with the pollution it has created.
WWF reported that Australia creates up to 3 million tonnes of plastic every year, and up to 130,000 tonnes of that plastic will end up in the ocean as rubbish.
However, did you know that it takes 200 years for plastic straws to break down?
Yet, it is estimated that there are up to 8.3 billion plastic straws that pollute the world's beaches. In an international effort to clean up the coastal lines, Ocean Conservancy reported that plastic straws were among the top 10 items picked up along the beach. In total, they had enough straws to reach the height of 10,000 palm trees.
But wait, don't we have bioplastic straws which are biodegradable?
Unfortunately, not always. The "bio" in bioplastic only refers to the material its been made out of, and not how it will break down once its been thrown away. These bioplastic straws will still have to get sent to a facility to be broken down.
On top of that, when consumers see the "bio" sign, most will take it as a sign that it can be thrown anywhere. A National Geographic article found out when San Francisco placed a ban on Styrofoam products and switched it with paper cups, the Styrofoam cup litter dropped, but the paper cup litter increased.
Based on this misunderstanding of bioplastics, most of them do not get thrown away properly. To top it off, most cities do not even have the facilities to compost, sort and recycle bioplastics, so most of these bioplastic goods end up in a landfill either way.
Straw free movements such as The Last Straw and Straw No More have kick-started the plastic free straw movement by encouraging reusable straws made out of bamboo and stainless steel; while company giants such as McDonald's and Starbucks have made plans to phase out plastic straws by 2020, with replacements of paper straws.