Tax plastic drinking straws, firm says

By Roger Harrabin
BBC environment analyst

image copyrightGetty Images

A waste disposal firm has stepped into the row over hard-to-recycle products by demanding a tax on plastic drinking straws.

The firm,, says manufacturers should revert to old-style paper straws, which biodegrade.

Plastic straws were described as "the ultimate in human wastefulness" by the firm.

It follows news that the most hated products for recyclers are Pringles and Lucozade Sport.

BusinessWaste's spokesman Mark Hall said: "A plastic straw has a lifespan of around 20 minutes, and then it's thrown away.

"Where recycling facilities exist, most pubs and bars don't bother separating out used straws to recycle because it's fiddly, and - frankly - they've been in the mouth of a stranger.

"They are pretty much the ultimate in human wastefulness, and a problem that can so easily be solved with very little effort."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionCatering supply company Inn Supplies claims paper straws are "not so aesthetically pleasing"

The firm suggests a 5p plastic straw tax, in the footsteps of the plastic bag tax, which has radically cut the use of single-use bags.

'Paper straws outdated'

It also takes aim at adults who use drinking straws. Mr Hall added: "Face the facts, you're not eight years old. Only kids need a straw with their fizzy pop. Why on earth do you need a straw in your G&T?

"The same goes for the little paper-plastic umbrella in your cocktail. They rank with Christmas cracker treats as the most pointless invention known to man."

Charles Sellers from Inn Supplies, a firm which provides straws for caterers, defended their use. "Paper straws are outdated - they're not so aesthetically pleasing."

He added: "Anyway, some of the paper straws aren't easy to recycle because they've got a polyethylene lining."

A plastic bottle tax was considered by the government earlier in the year but abandoned after manufacturers pointed out the costs in establishing proper recycling schemes.

media captionA packaging design competition is launching to reduce landfill plastics

Last week BBC News named the five products that most upset recycling firms because they are hard - or impossible - to recycle.

It included Pringles, Lucozade Sports, black meat trays, cleaning spray bottles and whisky bottle cartons.

Prince Charles launched a campaign for new recyclable designs for common products.

One item praised by competition organisers was a Japanese product - Drink Yoghurt - which has a slot in the side of the carton to contain the small straw.

Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin

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