Our Say: Environment. Make it the last (plastic) straw

Plastic straws wouldn’t leap to mind as a potential threat to the environment or wildlife, but could become the next target – in Dubbo at least – of people wanting to improve the prospects of both.

One hospitality venue has already abandoned them for a “green” alternative and reports other businesses are thinking of making the switch.

Publican Ryan Mackintosh, of the Old Bank Restaurant and Bar, made the change after viewing “confronting media images” of plastic straws ending up in Australia’s waterways and oceans.

The Old Bank says it could fill up a quarter of a wheelie bin with the straws after a regular night.

The straws may be small but are in constant use in most restaurants, pubs, clubs, and other places. Multiply the number of venues by wheelie bins and the straws would form a small mountain on a daily basis.

Many would not be making it as far as the local garbage facility and those straws do not break down in the environment.

However, they can be replaced by bio-degradable versions at no extra cost.

Mr Mackintosh has now challenged Dubbo’s pubs, cafes and restaurants to make the switch.

Hopefully, many owners and operators will do so.

They would remember the campaign in 2017 to help the environment by drastically cutting the use of takeaway paper cups for coffee. That had wide community support and recognition for businesses that participated. And it was a great success.

Every little bit helps.

At a State level, one can only hope the NSW Government will move this year to ban the use of plastic shopping bags.

Queensland is the latest state to announce its plans to introduce a ban on the bags.

NSW has a sorry record of broken promises on the bags dating back to promises of action by previous governments as long ago as 2004. 

Nothing happened. Fast forward to 2017 and supermarket chains announced plans to get rid of lightweight plastic bags from all stores.

But, the current NSW government turned the bags into a second-order issue, preferring to get the Return-and-Earn deposit scheme for plastic bottles up and running first. That scheme is still rolling out. Getting rid of the bags must then be the priority.