© Natasha Ewins

The final straw

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 27 September 2017

Pub chain Wetherspoon’s has announced they’ll stop using plastic straws across its 900 pubs in the UK and Republic of Ireland by the end of the year. Now MCS will be working to ensure it’s the end of the road for straws at other outlets too. Will you stop sucking?

© Natasha Ewins

Since a video appeared on YouTube of a sea turtle having a straw extracted from its nostril, the writing’s been on the wall for the single-use plastic straw.

For an item we use for often less than a few minutes – that’s even less time than a single-use carrier bag or a plastic take away cup – plastic straws really do suck.

But in the last 24 hours the straw has hit the headlines and turtles everywhere must be as delighted as we are! Pub chain Weatherspoon’s have announced they’ll stop using plastic straws across its 900 pubs in the UK and Republic of Ireland by the end of the year, and as of now, bar staff will no longer automatically put a plastic straw in your drink – although you can request one.

Come January 2018, ‘Spoons will be switching to paper straws.

Emma Cunningham, MCS Senior Pollution Campaigns Officer, is delighted: “This is great news and we encourage all restaurants, bars, chains and cafes to follow suit. MCS wants to see a reduction in all single use plastic, so straws are another step in the right direction to help address the bigger marine litter issue.

Plastics don’t simply disappear and can last for hundreds of years at sea, plastic litter makes up around 70% of beach litter with cutlery, straws and trays making up 8% of on-the-go litter.

We encourage all members of the public to really think, do you actually need a straw with your drink?

Unless it’s required for the disabled community or medical use then surely we could all live without yet another item that is used once and simply discarded.”

And there’s an appetite for a world without straws. A phone-in on BBC Radio 5Live asked people to pledge, live on air, to give up their sucking habit – and they did!

Sam Barratt from the United Nations Environment Programme told the station that people use plastic straws for five minutes but their impact can last 500 years.

Weatherspoon’s isn’t the first pub chain to announce such a move. Earlier this year the bar chain All Bar One said it would ban plastic straws at all its UK outlets, a pledge it said would avoid the use of 4.7 million plastic straws a year. The Laine Pub Company has also announced a ban.

The question is – who’ll be next? The pressure is on other pub, restaurant, fast food and cinema chains to follow suit as well as smaller outlets, all of whom, for many years, have been handing out plastic straws like there’s no tomorrow - sadly for some marine creatures a straw in the gullet means quite literally there has been no tomorrow.

Read more about our latest campaign to stop the unnecessary use of plastic straws.

Actions you can take

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

Did you know?…

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

To date, our beach cleans have removed over 11 million pieces of litter

It’s estimated that one rubbish truck load of plastic litter enters the ocean every minute