A matter of days to biodegrade
A paper straw wouldn't last the duration of a long weekend.
200 years to biodegrade
If Queen Victoria used a plastic straw at her coronation - in 1837 - it could be on display in a museum today.
Plastic straws first became popular in the 1960s – this meant straws went from being made of biodegradable paper to single-use plastic. In the UK we throw away an estimated 8.5 billion plastic straws every year.vi
The rise of the fast food industry has fuelled the demand for cheap, disposable single-use plastic. These cannot be recycled, and a great deal of them end up in our oceans where they are consumed by marine mammals, fish and seabirds. It’s estimated that 30% of turtles and 71% of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs.vii
Many places are banning plastic straws entirely, and some of the largest global companies have already announced plans to eliminate the use of plastic straws in all their locations around the world.viii In the UK, following the success of the plastic bag charge and ban on microbeads, all single-use plastics will soon be banned.ix
We already have a replacement for plastic straws; paper straws were invented before plastic onesx and should soon return to being standard around the country. Of course, if a straw isn’t necessary, the simplest way to avoid contributing to the problem is to ask for your drink without one.