Michael Gove today praised the Evening Standard’s Last Straw campaign as he said a UK-wide ban on plastic straws is set to be introduced within months.
Dozens of major restaurant chains, pubs and bars across London have already ditched their straws for biodegradable alternatives after this paper encouraged them to be more environmentally friendly.
Mr Gove said: “Straws are not just another example of plastic waste, they can be lethal.
“And the Evening Standard as part of their Last Straw Campaign has made the case compellingly for action.
“I believe we need to act and am exploring now what we can do as quickly as possible within the law.”
Plastic straws are used on average for 20 minutes but can take up to 500 years to biodegrade. Campaigners say they are one of the most common items ingested by sea birds and can also get stuck in the mouths and nostrils of turtles.
An estimated two billion straws are thrown away each year in London, making it the plastic straw capital of Europe.
While there is concern current EU law means the UK can’t ban straws right at this moment, Mr Gove said he is doing everything he can to “eliminate this scourge” and is set to make an announcement of how the ban would work legally in the next few months.
D&D London whose restaurants include Bluebird, 100 Wardour St and city favourite Coq d-Argent, were among the very first businesses to issue a straw ban.
Their chief executive Des Gunewardena, said: “It’s fantastic news that Michael Gove is doing this. Getting rid of plastic is a huge issue but getting rid of plastic straws is easy to do, which is exactly why we did it. We are thrilled that this has helped kick-start a whole movement.”
John Vincent, founder and CEO of food chain LEON: said: “This is fantastic news. The Evening Standard, and of course David Attenborough, have done a great job to get the government to here. Let’s use this momentum to get government moving on a full environmental plan that can safeguard the health of our planet.”
Disposable straws can be made of compostable “bio-plastics” derived from corn starch that biodegrade in 12 weeks.
Multi-use straws can be made of paper, metal or bamboo. An edible straw made from seaweed that comes in flavours such as mango or vanilla is also being developed by a US company.
Labour described Mr Gove’s plastic straw ban as “positive” but said the Government had a lot more work to do in terms of its environmental policies.