Plastic straw ban may bring backlash from customers, disability groups

More and more businesses are phasing out the plastic straw- but with the ban comes backlash.
Many Peterborough businesses are slowly phasing out the plastic straw- they no longer use them, but they're available upon request.  However, the elimination comes with a lot of backlash.

Many Peterborough businesses are slowly phasing out the plastic straw — they no longer use them, but they’re available upon request.  However, the elimination comes with a degree of backlash.

When Sam Sayer opened her deli 8 years ago, she never carried bottled water or plastic straws because she says plastic is a big waste and impacts the environment.

“But people argued and we got many bad reviews for not having those things, so now it’s up to people if they want to use them or not,” said Sayer.

But as the saying goes in business, the customer is always right — much to her chagrin.

READ MORE: Banning plastic straws- a look at how much it really helps and who it could hurt

“I don’t want to carry them, but I carry them because i don’t want to argue with somebody about why I don’t carry them,” Sayer added.

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The elimination of plastic straws and other daily items is on the rise, and many businesses are following suit. Coffee giant Starbucks recently announced that it is phasing out plastic straws by 2020.

Peterborough GreenUp store coordinator Kristen Larocque says every month she sells more and more reusable straws, and she can’t keep up with refilling the shelves.

She adds that plastic straws have materials which are not recyclable, don’t biodegrade and often end up in waterways

“The micro-plastics that come from the slow breakdown of straws in waterways, they get into the ecosystem and they really permeate so we end up eating them when we enjoy our salmon dinner,” said Larocque.

READ MORE: Starbucks to ditch plastic straws globally by 2020

Larocque says the elimination of plastic items is a move in the right direction for the environment.

“France has banned plastic bags. We’ve seen Vancouver ban plastic straws, styrofoam, take-out containers and take-out cups,” said Larocque.

However, some Canadian and American disability rights groups are the questioning the straw ban by Starbucks.

James Hicks of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities recently told The Canadian Press that many people with disabilities view a plastic straw as a necessity.

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“One need should not trump another,” Hicks said. “The need for good environmental products should not trump what’s needed for people with disabilities, and vice versa.”

Back at Sam’s Place, Sayer says a group effort is needed to take care of the planet.

“I just think it’s best for people to understand that it’s their choice on the way they choose to live and how they are affecting the environment,” Sayer said. “I don’t think it should all be left to the business owners. I think it’s really a consumers’ approach.”

Larocque recommends that individuals bring their own cutlery whenever possible, including containers and straws.