London City Airport implements plastic straw ban

London City Airport has become the first airport in the UK to place an outright ban on plastic straws across food and drink outlets on its premises, instead obliging outlets to use biodegradable straws available on request.

The airport distributed approximately 100,000 plastic straws to customers through onsite outlets last year. While this is just a fraction of the 4.5 million passengers that travel through the airport annually, London City Airport has agreed to replace the plastic products with biodegradable or paper versions, which will be provided upon request.

London City Airport’s environmental compliance executive Lewis Chenery said: “We are pleased to see plastic straws depart from London City Airport, joining a range of waste management initiatives that we already implement as a zero-landfill company.

“Recent public interest in plastic waste has brought into sharp focus the issue, and we will be looking at new measures to further reduce our contribution, as we develop a new guide for our restaurants and retailers. We are also committed to increasing our recycling rate to 70% by the end of this year.”

The decision to remove the straws was driven by the London Evening Standard’s ‘The Last Straw’ campaign, which aims to reduce the use of plastic straws in the capital. Heightened public awareness on plastic waste also contributed to the decision.

Some of the onsite outlets at the airport have already removed plastic straws, including café-bar Brick Lane Brews, Pret A Manger and Café Nero. SSP, which operates several airport outlets such as Espressamente Illy, City Bar, Pilots Bar & Kitchen and Panopolis will only provide paper straws.

London City Airport currently provides free drinking water refills at all food and drink outlets, to help reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste. Passengers can ask staff for water without the need to purchase an item.

Last straw

Plastic straws appear to be the first item that businesses are targetting in order to eliminate the amount of avoidable plastics they use.

In December, Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, the collection of boutique hotels, announced it will stop serving plastic straws as a way to reduce waste across its 33 hotels.

High street coffee chain Costa has pledged to replace all straws with a non-plastic alternative this year, building on a previous commitment to remove straws from its condiment units. Elsewhere, the world’s largest spirits producer Diageo has committed to phasing out the use of all plastic straws and stirrers from its offices, events, promotions, advertising and marketing globally by 2020.

Pernod Ricard has decided to stop using non-biodegradable plastic straws and stirrers in any part of its business. From Earth Day (22 April) this year, Asian restaurant brand Wagamama will switch to a biodegradable paper alternative for its straws.

Last month, supermarket Morrisons told HuffPost UK that it will phase out plastic drinking straws and cotton bud stems and replace them with paper alternatives. In a similar move, Waitrose has announced that it will stop selling packs of plastic straws at all supermarkets by September 2018.

Matt Mace

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