Forbes magazine reports that the UK government estimates we use around 8.5 billion plastic straws each year. As they are thrown away, this potentially contributes to the over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans today.

Plastic straws are problematic because of their size. Most are too lightweight to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter and will tend to drop through the sorting screens. This allows them to mix with other materials, meaning they are then too small to separate. So, even if they do go to a recycling plant, they sometimes slip through the net and will end up in a landfill somewhere.

That’s why the UK is set to ban all sales of single-use plastics, including plastic straws, as early as next year. Prime Minister May is also urging other Commonwealth countries to join in on this plan. Sustainability is about companies of all sizes and sectors joining together and taking actions on matters which have a lasting impact on the environment.

What are some major companies doing now to help endorse this plan?

Earthday.org has a list of the regions, countries, cities, and businesses that are coming together to restrict the consumption and sale of single-use plastics, with one of their main focuses being on plastic straw use.

McDonalds, that has some of its stores now using paper straws and is also moving straws behind the counter, will have a total roll-out of paper straws set to start in September. This roll-out includes all 1,361 of the McDonald’s stores located in the UK and Ireland.

Supermarkets in the UK are also taking up this cause. Waitrose says that it’s removing all plastic straws from its shelves by September and Morrisons has stopped sourcing plastic straws for its stores as well.

Other UK businesses in the hospitality industry are doing their part. Marriott has removed plastic straws from over 60 of its hotels, and customers who now request a straw are given a biodegradable or paper alternative instead. Marriott says that all 6,500 of its hotels and resorts worldwide, along with corporate HQ, will be straw-free by July 2019.

Global furniture retailer IKEA is also an advocate of this plan. They will ban plastic straws in both the UK and Ireland later this year, and have a goal to remove single-use plastics from their global product range by the end of the decade.

How can this apply to a small or medium-sized business?

By looking at what these major companies are now doing, many small changes could be adopted in your business. Changes such as using recyclable plates when celebrating birthdays or promotions; encouraging employees to bring their own silverware or recyclable utensils from home; or providing them with compostable straws, utensils, and reusable cups, can be very impactful.

Making small efforts to reuse items around the office makes a huge difference. This is also a great way of showing your staff and customers that you are a responsible business. Your eco-friendly office efforts can be shared on your company website and included as part of your mission statement. Recycling, minimising waste and caring for the environment is an important part of a productive work environment.

Customers have a growing concern about the environmental impact of business activity and are becoming increasingly aware and expectant of good environmental practices. With this proposed ban, if everyone does their part, this will help reduce our environmental footprint and advance our long-term sustainability.

Forbes magazine reports that the UK government estimates we use around 8.5 billion plastic straws each year. As they are thrown away, this potentially contributes to the over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans today.

Plastic straws are problematic because of their size. Most are too lightweight to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter and will tend to drop through the sorting screens. This allows them to mix with other materials, meaning they are then too small to separate. So, even if they do go to a recycling plant, they sometimes slip through the net and will end up in a landfill somewhere.

That’s why the UK is set to ban all sales of single-use plastics, including plastic straws, as early as next year. Prime Minister May is also urging other Commonwealth countries to join in on this plan. Sustainability is about companies of all sizes and sectors joining together and taking actions on matters which have a lasting impact on the environment.

What are some major companies doing now to help endorse this plan?

Earthday.org has a list of the regions, countries, cities, and businesses that are coming together to restrict the consumption and sale of single-use plastics, with one of their main focuses being on plastic straw use.

McDonalds, that has some of its stores now using paper straws and is also moving straws behind the counter, will have a total roll-out of paper straws set to start in September. This roll-out includes all 1,361 of the McDonald’s stores located in the UK and Ireland.

Supermarkets in the UK are also taking up this cause. Waitrose says that it’s removing all plastic straws from its shelves by September and Morrisons has stopped sourcing plastic straws for its stores as well.

Other UK businesses in the hospitality industry are doing their part. Marriott has removed plastic straws from over 60 of its hotels, and customers who now request a straw are given a biodegradable or paper alternative instead. Marriott says that all 6,500 of its hotels and resorts worldwide, along with corporate HQ, will be straw-free by July 2019.

Global furniture retailer IKEA is also an advocate of this plan. They will ban plastic straws in both the UK and Ireland later this year, and have a goal to remove single-use plastics from their global product range by the end of the decade.

How can this apply to a small or medium-sized business?

By looking at what these major companies are now doing, many small changes could be adopted in your business. Changes such as using recyclable plates when celebrating birthdays or promotions; encouraging employees to bring their own silverware or recyclable utensils from home; or providing them with compostable straws, utensils, and reusable cups, can be very impactful.

Making small efforts to reuse items around the office makes a huge difference. This is also a great way of showing your staff and customers that you are a responsible business. Your eco-friendly office efforts can be shared on your company website and included as part of your mission statement. Recycling, minimising waste and caring for the environment is an important part of a productive work environment.

Customers have a growing concern about the environmental impact of business activity and are becoming increasingly aware and expectant of good environmental practices. With this proposed ban, if everyone does their part, this will help reduce our environmental footprint and advance our long-term sustainability.

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