Plastics, specifically single-use plastics, have been in the spotlight a lot this year. State governments and supermarket chains have banned single-use plastic bags and plenty of bars and eateries across Australia have introduced plastic straw bans. And now, fast food giant McDonald's is taking a stand against single-use plastic straws, announcing it'll start phasing plastic straws across Australia next month.
There's no exact figure for Australia, but it's estimated that 500 million plastic straws are used and discarded every day in the US — that's enough to fill 125 school buses. Plastic straws are also part of a wider plastics and general waste being experienced globally, with experts estimating that by 2050 there'll be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
While the most recent push to ban plastic straws across Australia has been welcomed by many environmental groups, it also has unwelcome consequences for many disabled Australians.
As reported by the ABC, many disabled Australians rely on straws to eat and drink, with reusable options not being suitable because of their inability to bend or to be used in beverages above a certain temperature. Users on both sides of the debate have voiced their opinions on Twitter, with some saying the ban is a no-brainer, while others saying it just further marginalises the disabled members of our community. Some users suggest a straws-on-demand policy could be the answer.
It has not yet been announced which Australian restaurants will be trialling the paper straws, or when a wider ban will be implemented, but we'll continue to update as more information is released.