Coca-Cola Amatil’s decision to replace plastic straws with paper in Australian outlets has been welcomed by environmental groups, but consumers have been warned against being complacent with disposal.
The company has announced it will phase out plastic drinking straws and stirrers in Australia over the next two months and replace them with fully recyclable and biodegradable paper straws.
The decision is part of the company’s efforts to reduce single-use plastics, says group managing director Alison Watkins.
“We’ve heard the community message loud and clear — that unnecessary packaging is unacceptable,” she said on Monday.
Clean Up Australia managing director Terrie-Ann Johnson says Coca-Cola Amatil is taking a step in the right direction, but it’s also up to consumers to dispose of biodegradable straws properly.
Last year, straws made up nearly 11 per cent of all plastic rubbish reported to Clean Up Australia.
“As rubbish, these items will still cause harm,” Ms Johnson told AAP. Compostable waste is the best way to dispose of paper straws, followed by commercial composting or landfill, but in the open they will take longer and harm wildlife and the environment, she said.
Eva Mackinley, founder of The Last Straw campaign, says it’s an exciting move from a large company.
“I’m hoping that the replacement of plastic straws by Coca-Cola goes hand in hand with some waste reduction education, as simply replacing one disposable straw with another is still replacing waste with waste,” she told AAP. The paper drinking straws will be sourced from suppliers BioPak and Austraw and made available to around 115,000 outlets nationwide including grocery and convenience stores, bars and cafes.
The company said distribution of the old single-use plastic straws and stirrers will cease as stocks run out over the next two months, while new paper straws will be available from February.