Bans on Plastic Straws Are Growing. But Is the Travel Industry Doing Enough?

Global momentum has built in recent months to ban plastic straws and replace them with biodegradable paper ones. But cruise lines and luxury resorts are lagging.
May 1, 2018 10:40 AM ET
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By Adam H. Graham

The United States goes through over 500 million plastic straws every day, according to Eco-Cycle, a United States-based nonprofit recycling organization. They get used for only a few minutes, but potentially last for hundreds of years in the ocean, and are among the top 10 pollutants collected during beach cleanups. Plastic straws kill marine life and choke reefs and beaches, never decomposing completely, but instead breaking into bits of microplastics, which eventually enter the food chain. And so the straw — ubiquitous in most restaurants, bars, cruise ships and luxury resorts — has become a prime example of how tourism can have a deeply negative effect on the environment.

Spirit companies have joined the fight, stating that there’s no place for plastics in cocktails. Bacardi launched its No Straw campaign in 2016, estimated to eliminate one million straws a year. This year Diageo and Pernod Ricard, owners of Absolut, Baileys and Smirnoff brands, banned straws and stirrers from global affiliates, functions and ads.

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