Taiwan is initiating a ban of single use plastics, starting with plastic drinking straws in 2020, according to a report in the Hong Kong Free Press.

These plastic items will be banned at fast food chains and other restaurants starting in 2020. By 2025, there will be a fee for takeaway plastic straws, and by 2030, a total ban will go into effect for plastic straws. Plastic shopping bags, disposable food containers and disposable utensils will also be banned in 2020 from all retail stores that issue uniform invoices. A complete ban on these plastics (plastic bags, disposable utensils and disposable beverage cups) will go into effect in 2030. 

Metal straws such as these are widely available and reusable. They often come in a pouch with a brush to clean them after use. Photo by Anna Varona.

“You can use steel products, or edible straws – or maybe you just don’t need to use straws at all,” Taiwan Minister Lee Ying-yuan told the Hong Kong Free Press. “There is no inconvenience caused at all.”

The minister also said that the non-use of plastic is the responsibility of all people and not just his agency, and the elimination of these single use plastics will create a cleaner environment. 

The pallet that CoOp founder Anna Varona is stepping on is made out of plastic satchets such as the Great Taste and Chippy bags you see atop the pallet. Photo by Anna Varona.

The ban on plastic straws has gained steam since the uploading of a YouTube video by Christine Figgener with the Leatherback Trust. Figgener in 2015 recorded her colleague Nathan J. Robinson removing what they initially thought was a tube worm, but turned out to be a plastic straw, lodged in the nostril of an olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea). Figgener’s video went viral in 2018 when mainstream media interviewed her to discuss the impact her video had on society after three years of sharing on the Internet. 

Since the release of the video, corporations have initiated bans on single use plastics on their own. Starbucks will stop using plastic straws in 2020 and guests at Hyatt Hotels have to request for plastic straws and stirrers. Scotland will ban plastic straws by the end of this year, and municipalities around the world have initiated regulations and bans of single use plastics. Seattle, WA banned plastic straws in 2018. A sampling of the companies below that have banned plastic straws.

  • Hilton
  • Marriott UK
  • American Airlines
  • Alaska Airlines
  • SeaWorld Entertainment
  • Royal Caribbean

Single use plastics such as plastic straws are a hazard to the environment due in large part to the sheer number littering the world’s oceans and the fact that they are plastic.  

Australian scientists Denise Hardesty and Chris Wilcox studied the data from coastal cleanups just in the United States and found that close to 7.5 million plastic straws litter the shorelines of the United States and 437 million to 8.3 billion plastic straws litter the world’s coastlines. 

If you have a need for straws, please invest in a stainless steel straw. If you don’t have a need, refuse when offered them. Keep our oceans clean. Clean our oceans.