Dubbo's Old Bank tackles plastic straw waste issue

Switch it: Old Bank Restaurant and Bar licensee Ryan Mackintosh with the new straws that will break down, rather than harming the environment. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
Switch it: Old Bank Restaurant and Bar licensee Ryan Mackintosh with the new straws that will break down, rather than harming the environment. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

The pile of plastic straw waste that builds up in just one night has prompted one Dubbo establishment to find a better way.

Old Bank Restaurant and Bar’s success in attracting a crowd meant it could “fill up a quarter of a wheelie bin” with plastic straws on average after a regular night.

Publican Ryan Mackintosh reported of seeing confronting media images of the common hospitality item ending up in the nation’s waterways and oceans.

Moved to tackle the issue at a local level, the Old Bank has made the switch to 100 per cent biodegradable straws, Mr Mackintosh reports.

The solution was found with the help of Dubbo business Inland Distributors.

“I came to the decision myself after seeing the constant waste build up after a regular night which on average could fill up a quarter of a wheelie bin,” Mr Mackintosh said.

“After seeing a lot of press online about the awareness of plastic straws ending up in waterways and oceans it was quite confronting.

“After reading further into the stats and facts it’s quite shocking to think that a regular plastic straw will never break down in the environment.”

The ‘eco-straws’ cost the same as traditional straws, Mr McIntosh reports.

They use an oxo-biodegradable additive at the manufacturing stage that turns ordinary plastic into a material with a different molecular structure, he said.

After a period of useful life, they will break down in the presence of oxygen, eventually becoming a material that will disappear in the open environment, the same way as a leaf.

It was “100 per cent important” to the Old Bank licensee to buy local.

“I sat down with Keith and Neil from Inland Distributors and they thought it was an amazing idea,” Mr Mackintosh said.

“We got in contact with the manufacturer in Brisbane and a supply through them.

“Inland Distributors cover a massive area... so people will have access to the straws throughout the central west.”

The response has been “absolutely amazing”.

“People have been very supportive and I have had a lot of other local business touch base with me and ask about where to buy and make the switch,” Mr Mackintosh said.

The advocate for change has issued a challenge to the pubs, cafes and restaurants of Dubbo’s hospitality community to make the switch.

“I think if everyone gets on board, it’s a small little thing, it’s not going to cost a business any more money… and a small little thing like that can just make a massive difference,” he said.