Britain is banning plastic straws — and asking Canada to join
Britain plans to ban the sale of plastic straws and is pressing other Commonwealth countries, such as Canada, to join.
Plastic straws have been a hot-button issue for environmental for video of marine biologists removing a plastic straw from a sea turtle’s nostril went viral online.
On Thursday, British Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to eradicate plastic waste by 2042 as part of a “national plan of action.”
“Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world, which is why protecting the marine environment is central to our agenda at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting,” May said in a statement ahead of a Commonwealth summit.
Leaders from the Commonwealth — a network of 53 countries, mostly former British colonies — are meeting in London this week. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also there and on Thursday was asked if he would join Britain in the ban.
WATCH: Growing movement to ban the plastic straw
Trudeau skirted the question, but did say he will “talk about this with the G7 nations and look at the solutions.”
The ban also includes products such as cotton swabs, which are often flushed down the toilet, get into water systems, and then pose a threat to marine life and birds who may try to eat it.
Britain’s announcement comes after many restaurants in the U.K. have already banned single-use plastic straws. On Wednesday, McDonald’s in Britain said it would start using drinking straws made from paper.
Plastic straws have already been banned in several U.S. cities, such as Seattle, Miami Beach and Malibu, Calif.
Toronto restaurants hoping to ban plastic straws
The movement of eliminating plastic straws also made its way to several Canadian cities.
A project called, The Law Straw Toronto encourages bars and restaurants in the city to go straw-free.
Using the hashtag #StopSuckingToronto, over 100 restaurants, including Hemingway’s on Cumberland Street and the Mill Street Brew Pub in the Distillery District, have jumped on board the initiative.
A growing number of bars and restaurants in Vancouver have also started banning straws. The city is not calling for an outright ban, but is proposing that servers ask customers whether they want to have a straw with their cocktails.
Vancouver’s plan follows other cities that have taken aim at plastic waste. Victoria is set to ban plastic shopping bags in July after Montreal abolished them in January.
WATCH: Straw ban taking off in the Okanagan
The case against plastic straws
The growing ban on plastic straws comes as United Nations figures show eight million tonnes of plastic — bottles, packaging and other waste — enter the ocean each year, killing marine life and entering the human food chain.
It takes plastic straws and stirrers up to 200 years to biodegrade.
Scientists have urged tougher restrictions on plastic waste. In December, almost 200 nations agreed to limit plastic pollution of the oceans, warning it could outweigh fish by 2030.
— With files from Global News’ and Reuters
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