Is the final straw coming?

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 18 January 2018

Wagamama, Pret a Manger and Costa have all announced they will stop offering plastic straws to customers whilst Waitrose and Morrisons have said they will stop selling them.

© Tilemahos Efthimiadis

Our message is if you’re a business – stop handing them out, unless it’s absolutely necessary and if you’re a consumer - just say no.

Laura Parry,
MCS Clean Seas Team

It’s estimated that the UK uses 8.5 billion straws a year and MCS beach clean volunteers have been finding plastic straws on UK beaches in increasing numbers over the last 20 years of data collection.

Since a video appeared on YouTube of a sea turtle having a straw extracted from its nostril it’s become absolutely clear that the random handing out of this single-use plastic item - often used for just a few minutes, so even less time than a single-use carrier bag or a plastic take away cup - must stop.

MCS is delighted to see that so many household name outlets are deciding to do the right thing for our seas and stop giving out or selling plastic straws when biodegradable and eco alternatives are readily available.

Pret a Manger has more than 300 stores in the UK and say plastic straws would be kept behind the tills and paper straws would be available to their customers in some stores from as early as next week.

Restaurant chain Wagamama has more than 100 branches in the UK and say they will introduce their straw-free policy on Earth Day - 22 April.

Costa has more than 2,200 branches in the UK and currently uses 19million straws a year and 26million stroons which are plastic straws with spoons on the end. They say both will be replaced with a non-plastic alternatives.

MCS is also supporting the Evening Standard in asking London restaurants, pubs and clubs to stop using plastic straws and switch to biodegradable alternatives for those who really need them. And we’re fully behind the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, Kate Forbes, who recently launched her ‘Final Straw’ campaign calling on Scottish and UK Governments to ban plastic straws.

MCS says it will be keeping a close eye on outlets to ensure they are using truly biodegradable alternatives and not just replacing one type of polluting litter with another.

“Our message is if you’re a business – stop handing them out, unless it’s absolutely necessary and if you’re a consumer - just say no, because you really don’t need it and you’ll be doing the oceans a massive favour,” says Laura Parry from the MCS Clean Seas Team.

MCS is currently calling on UK governments to put a charge on single-use plastic throwaway items and demanding that big fast food chains stop giving out millions of plastic cups, stirrers, straws and cutlery but instead replace them with reusable or fully compostable alternatives.

Actions you can take

  1. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2019
  2. Download our straw poster
  3. Share #stopsucking
  4. Download straw graphic for cafe/bar counter
  5. Refuse straws at your local restaurant/bar
  6. Help us stop the plastic tide

Did you know?…

Over time, one plastic bottle bobbing along in the ocean can break down in to hundreds of tiny plastic pieces

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is thought to be 6 times the size of the UK

Plastic has been found in the stomachs of almost all marine species including fish, birds, whales, dolphins, seals and turtles