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Spirits giant Pernod Ricard USA at press time had just announced a global initiative to ban non-biodegradable plastic straws and stirrers in its business. The company says it will no longer purchase plastic straws; it will deplete its current supply and encourage business partners to look at similar opportunities.

Pernod Ricard noted in the announcement that the reinvigorated popularity of cocktails has resulted in an explosion of global straw use. "We want to break the association that a cocktail needs a straw or stirrer to be complete," said a company spokesperson.

More than 500 million plastic straws are used each day in the U.S., according to the Plastic Pollution Coalition. And it's just in the past 20 years that consumers have come to expect plastic straws in every drink.

Single-use plastic straws have been coming under fire for several years, as they pose an environmental hazard--particularly to marine life. The lightweight straws frequently wind up in rivers and oceans, where animals often mistake them for food.

Efforts to eliminate plastic straws have gained steam. Seattle will officially ban them from restaurants beginning this July. It follows Strawless Ocean's "Strawless In Seattle" campaign that removed 2.3 million plastic straws from the city just in September.

A number of cities in California are considering bans on restaurants automatically providing straws with beverages. Charleston, SC, last year held a "Strawless Summer Challenge" to prompt bars and restaurants to stop using plastic straws from June 20 through August.

Several operators have ditched straws on their own. Chicago-based DMK Restaurants this past June removed plastic straws from all 14 of its locations. Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group in July eliminated them from its 25 restaurants worldwide. Three San Diego concepts owned by Hakkasan Group in May said that they would provide straws only when customers request them.

Offering straws only upon demand is a good first step for restaurants, while bars might consider eliminating them altogether or converting from plastic straws to paper, metal or compostable options.

Doing away with plastic straws and stirrers is a relatively easy way to make a big impact on the environment. And that's something many guests--especially the all-important Millennial consumers--are likely to support.


Melissa Dowling


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Title Annotation:FIRST SIP
Author:Dowling, Melissa
Date:Jan 1, 2018

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