Plastic straw ban "dangers" for disabled Scots

Plastic straws are at the centre of environmental pollution concerns
Plastic straws are at the centre of environmental pollution concerns
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Disability groups have called for a halt to a campaign to end the use of plastic straws in Scotland.

Highland MSP Kate Forbes is behind the call for a ban to address the environmental impact of plastic pollution.

But The One in Five campaign group says many alternatives to single use plastic straws are not suitable for disabled people.

One in Five founder Jamie Szymkowiak said: "Businesses are understandably responding to environmental concerns but in reacting so quickly the needs of their disabled customers risks becoming an afterthought.

Read more: New bid to ban use of plastic straws in Scotland
"We ask that businesses consider the needs of disabled people before ditching plastic straws completely."

A letter from the campaign group warns that most paper and plant-based alternatives are not flexible or suitable for drinks over 40C, therefore increases the risks of choking.

It adds: "Metal straws can be dangerous for people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson's whereas reusable plastic straws present hygiene concerns to people with specific health conditions."

Ms Forbes has previously said alternatives will need to be in place before plastic straw are entirely scrapped.

Read more: Scottish Parliament bans use of plastic drinking straws

But One in Five has contacted 10 firms who pledged to ban plastic straws, but says none could confirm if their alternatives would suit disabled people. Four have since said they will keep plastic straws for use by disabled people until suitable alternatives are sourced.

One in Five ask in the letter that the "campaign pauses until it is in a position to offer the advice and support companies are looking for".

Ms Forbes said: "I recognise that there are some people who need to use a straw and indeed I have a family member with a disability and therefore I understand the concerns of One in Five on a first-hand basis.

"No change to the law or business practices should put greater burdens on people with disabilities or those who need to use a straw. That's why I have offered to meet with representatives of One in Five again today.

"As recently as last week in the Scottish Parliament, I made clear that alternatives to plastic straws must be readily and easily available."