The Swiss town of Neuchâtel wants to ban disposable plastic straws. The plan calls for a ban in all of the town’s bars and eateries between now and the beginning of 2019, according to the newspaper 20 Minutes.
The initiative, known as operation Papaille – loosely translating to no straw (paille is French for straw) – is the brainchild of a local environmental association. It also has the support of GastroNeuchâtel, a restaurant association, and the town’s municipal leadership.
Only biodegradable or reusable stainless steel, bamboo or hard plastic straws would be permitted. Straws made from paper and algae exist.
“The straw is the symbol of a throwaway society”, said initiator Leïla Rölli.
Any rules will need to carefully define biodegradability. Plastics known as oxo-biodegradable are in many ways worse than ones made of regular plastic. Oxo-biodegradable plastics contain additives speeding their breakdown. However, they don’t always breakdown, some of the additives are damaging and they can contaminate plastic recycling streams.
There is a risk that, like recycling, this change, if successful, soothes consciences and stops people going further.
Most drinks come in plastic bottles so plastic straws are only the tip of the plastic iceberg. Avoiding plastic is far better than recycling it.
Water taken from a glass without a straw is impossible to beat for both human and environmental health.