Plastic bans are becoming more prevalent in today’s era of climate crisis.
In a remote area of the Pacific Ocean, vigorous currents converge into a swirling vortex where anything and everything that has found its way into the waters is swept together to form a massive floating island. This island, however, is anything but an idyllic Pacific paradise. It’s a collection of tons of unrecyclable plastics and other waste materials that measures twice the size of the State of Texas.
Images like these are so alarming, governments are working to impose bans on many types of plastics to try and help stem the dangerous effects of unrecycled plastic waste on ocean life and the overall health of the planet.
Good intentions, meet reality.
While many of us are conscientious about recycling plastics at home and at work, research shows that our good intentions are in stark contrast with reality. According to a 2017 study from the University of California, Santa Cruz, an incredible 91% of the plastic we use is not recycled and instead ends up in the ocean or in landfills.
The last straw?
One of the biggest contributors to the plastic problem in our oceans and landfills originates with one of the smallest items we use every day – plastic straws. Straws are small and inconspicuous – so much so that people often forget they are plastic and do not recycle them.
Straws that do get recycled often don’t make it through the mechanical recycling sorter because they are so small and lightweight. Often they contaminate recycling loads or get disposed of as garbage.
It is estimated that the average person uses 1.6 straws per day. That means that if 25,000 people stop using straws, we would eliminate 5,000,000 straws and prevent them from entering oceans and harming wildlife.
Governments are recognizing the impact of plastic straws on our planet and many are taking action.
- California recently became the first state to nix plastic straws from restaurant tables. Starting in 2019, customers in that state will have to ask if they want a straw.
- In 2018, Seattle became the first major US city to ban single-use plastic straws and utensils.
- Corporate bans are also quickly gaining traction: large companies like Starbucks, Aramark and American Airlines are vowing to stop offering plastic straws.
The tip of the iceberg
Plastic straw bans alone won’t immediately stem the tide of ocean and landfill contamination. But environmentalists feel that the removal of a single piece of plastic could be a first step in a much needed, larger behavior change. Baby steps now could eventually lead people to removing plastic use from their lives for good in the near future.
How are communities near you dealing with the plastic problem?
eCode360 clients can use the Multicode search feature to search our entire database of more than 2,200 eCodes to find plastic and recycling legislation in nearby communities that you can compare to your local laws or to use as samples for developing new legislation.
Business Insider: “The real reason so many cities and businesses are banning plastic straws,” By Hilary Brueck
Square, Inc (US): “Why plastic straws are being banned”