Which Country Will Be First to Ban Plastic Straws?
The big news in the U.K., it's not just all about the royal wedding.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced her government is exploring a ban on all single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers, and cotton swabs. She made the annoucement at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London and also called on other leaders to follow Britain's lead to "fight against marine plastics."
"The Commonwealth is a unique organization, with a huge diversity of wildlife, environments and coastlines," she said. "Together we can effect real change so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it."
This isn't the U.K.'s first step towards living with less plastic. Earlier this year, the Queen officially banned plastic straws and bottles on all royal grounds. And nearly 60 music festivals around the country have pledged to ban plastic straws, beverage bottles, and other single-use food items at their events by 2021. Then just last month, over 1,300 McDonald's locations around Britain joined the movement to nix plastic straws and are offering paper alternatives instead.
More than 8.5 billion plastic straws end up in the trash annually in the U.K. And according to the British government, one million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals die each year from either ingesting or getting tangled in plastic waste. If the current rate of plastic consumption continues, the amount that ends up floating out to waterways will triple by 2025.
"Single-use plastics are a scourge on our seas and lethal to our precious environment and wildlife," said Environment Secretary Michael Gove. He will begin consultations for the ban later this year. "It is vital we act now."