Scottish Whisky Association to ban plastic straws to tackle waste

Plastic is ending up in oceans around the world, killing and injuring wildlife
Plastic is ending up in oceans around the world, killing and injuring wildlife
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The representative body for Scotland’s whisky industry has announced it will ban plastic straws and drinks stirrers in an effort to reduce the impact of plastic waste on the planet.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has said the move is part of its ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability. The SWA’s environmental strategy was launched in 2009 and is the only one of its kind covering an entire Scottish sector.

Phasing out single-use plastic straws and stirrers and replacing them with eco-friendly alternatives is a logical extension of that goal, according to the SWA.

“The Scotch Whisky industry takes sustainability very seriously,” said Karen Betts, SWA chief executive.

“It is encouraging to see Scotch whisky producers taking steps to phase out unnecessary plastics.

“We hope that this SWA commitment will lead to the industry uniting behind biodegradable alternatives so that Scotch whisky cocktails can continue to be enjoyed without discarded plastics continuing to have a damaging impact on land as well as at sea.”

A rising tide of plastic is ending up in oceans around the world, killing and injuring seabirds, fish, turtles and whales and contaminating the planet.

Estimates suggest as much as 12 million tonnes is entering the marine environment annually. It does not decompose, persisting for hundreds – perhaps thousands – of years, gradually breaking into smaller and smaller pieces that can be eaten by wildlife.

The latest ban comes in the wake of corresponding moves from other organisations.

Ullapool, in the west Highlands, recently became the first village in Scotland to ban plastic straws, achieved as a result of the successful #NaeStrawAtAw campaign by local schoolchildren and pupils at Glasgow’s Sunnyside Primary.

Ferry operator CalMac revealed last week that it is outlawing plastic straws on all its vessels, coming shortly after an equivalent announcement from competitor Northlink.

Environmental campaigners have welcomed the increasing movement against disposable plastic waste and the efforts of young campaigners.

Noel Hawkins, Living Seas communities officer for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “These kids may only have wee voices but by speaking up together they are definitely making themselves heard.

“I’d like to congratulate Sunnyside Primary School, CalMac and all of the people and businesses in Scotland who have listened and committed to reducing their plastic usage to help protect our seas and wildlife.

“In order to turn stem the flow of plastic waste that is harming Scotland’s marine wildlife we will also need communities and businesses who aren’t as close to the coast to realise they can make a difference, but it definitely feels as if the tide is turning though great campaigns like #NaeStrawAtAw.”