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Do Plastics Bans Work?
By: Brayden Yin
Plastic waste is a big problem across the world. Countries such as the United Kingdom, India, Australia, and France have been imposing bans on plastic drinking straws, plastic utensils, and plastic bags and cling wrap.
The UK has completely banned plastic straws; single-use plastic bags have been banned in Australia since 2018; and India has banned plastic straws, cutlery, and packaging for food. In France, plastic wrappings are banned on fruit and vegetables.
Plastic waste is a problem, no doubt about that. Plastic is, though, one of the best materials for packaging food. Romane Osadnik is an account manager at CITEO, which is a French non-profit organization that was founded to reduce the impact of plastic packaging. He says, “Plastic can sometimes be the best option, especially in the food industry. Film wraps and plastic bags that seal food preserve the quality of the food and are lightweight options.” Plastic straws and cling wraps are only a small contributor to plastic waste. So, banning plastic straws and packaging doesn’t help ameliorate the plastic problem much.
In the UK, plastic drinking straws were completely banned. When a customer is given a drinking straw in any restaurant or café in the United Kingdom, the straw is usually made of paper. Most of the time, the straw goes limp and soggy after a few minutes in the drink, and they all go into general trash in the end—except for the ones that are composted. Most go into an incinerator or a landfill. Some people cannot raise a glass to their lips, so they have to use a straw. For people who are disabled in this manner, straws are essential. A straw that goes limp after a few minutes is not the best solution. Since plastic straws are only a small part of plastic pollution, banning them is not the best solution to the plastic crisis.
Banning plastic waste is not only inconvenient for people who can’t raise a glass to their lips, but it is also a solution that doesn’t help much.
Plastic bottles account for more than 2 million tons of plastic waste. Banning plastic water and drink bottles is a great solution. Nestle, PepsiCo, Coca Cola, and Unilever were found to produce more than half a million tons of plastic waste each.