The plastic straw ban has been a hot topic for the past few years as San Francisco joined the many other California cities to ban the plastic straw for the benefit of the environment. The first plastic straw ban happened in Seattle, in 2008, and many other US cities are following through. Although a second round of voting is coming up to finalize the law, there should be consideration to how this might affect businesses and people in general.
According to Worldwatch Institute, 299 million tons of plastic were produced in 2013. Five years from then, even more plastic is being manufactured and used for packaging and food use. This much plastic is negatively affecting the environment, as they take thousands of years to deconstruct and recycle and more pollution is filling the oceans; but let’s say that there is a ban on plastic straws. How much will this law actually affect pollution and waste control? Even though there are efforts to ban plastic straws, it will not affect the environment or reduce the amount of plastic waste by a significant amount. In reality, only 4% of plastic straws contribute to the overall plastic waste that is produced every year.
There are also many people in this world who need to use straws to eat and drink, such as disabled people and small children. With the ban of straws, this can make it hard or nearly impossible for them to drink or eat their food. Some people may say that reusable straws can be used at restaurants. But they are very pricey compared to the average plastics straw that they originally use, and it is hard for people to drink their drinks outside of the given restaurant or cafe. Other people suggest that reusable straws can be used instead. But this will be hard for people who take out their drinks instead of drinking them inside.
More eco-friendly options such as the paper straw has also been considered when debating this topic as they are more easily biodegradable than plastic straws but many people encounter not being able to use the straw for a long period of the time as they become soggy from the liquids passing through the straw.
Although many different options have been considered for plastic straw alternatives, I think people should focus on other forms of plastic that contribute more largely to plastic waste instead of straws. Because they are so light and small, banning them altogether will not only make no difference, but there are a lot of issues that can arise from banning them altogether.