The European Commission proposed on Monday to ban the use of plastic in the production of cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons.
“These products won’t disappear, they will just be made with different materials,” said commission first vice-president Frans Timmermans. The proposed ban aims to tackle single-use plastics, often found on beaches. “We are at risk of choking our oceans in plastic,” said Timmermans.
The governing body also wants almost all plastic bottles to be collected for recycling by 2025.
As soon as early 2019, plastic straws and other items like Q-tips could be a thing of the past in Europe. Forbes notes that there are an estimated 8.5 billion straws thrown away annually in the UK alone.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced a proposal to ban plastic straws and other single-use plastics during a meeting with Commonwealth nations in April 2018. The ban on plastic drinking straws comes as part of the country’s larger plan to at least decrease plastic waste in the coming decades.
The straw ban has plenty of stakeholders outside Brussels, not the least of which is the fast food industry. Delish reports that McDonald’s will lead the charge in cutting back on plastic straws to test a biodegradable paper equivalent. In addition to being made from greener materials, the new Mickey D’s straws will be kept behind the counter so that customers will need to ask for one proactively — rather than being handed a few with every drink.
Such measures will likely continue worldwide as “part of McDonald’s global strategy to make all guest packaging come from renewable, recycled, or certified sources by 2025,” per Delish.
Some people beg to disagree, though.
“The anti-plastic straw debate has enraged me because it has been one-sided,” Rosaleen Moriarty-Simmonds told the BBC.
“No one has consulted disabled people. A significant number of us rely on the humble plastic straw to be able to drink a glass of water, wine, or a cup of coffee.”