Disney is joining a growing number of businesses planning to eliminate drinking straws in an effort to be more environmentally friendly.
In a news release, Disney revealed its plans to ditch single-use plastic straws and plastic stirrers by mid-2019 in all of its locations. This could translate to the reduction of more than 175 million straws and 13 million stirrers every year, the company estimates.
Curious to know why straws have been in the news so much lately? Environmental activists say that we use more than 500 million plastic straws every day. Because they’re so lightweight, they often drop through sorting screens in mechanical recycling machines. Many end up in the ocean, and pose a deadly threat to marine life like seabirds and turtles.
In response to the growing awareness about ocean pollution, some big-name brands have been coming up with plans to go strawless.
Starbucks recently announced it would be removing straws from its coffee shops by 2020, a move that will eliminate the use of one billion plastic straws per year. In June, McDonald’s announced it would be moving from plastic to paper straws at its restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
However, some activists and disability groups are concerned with the growing number of straw bans, explaining that plastic straws are often a necessary tool for those with disabilities. In fact, alternatives to plastic straws can even pose safety risks for those with disabilities. For example, silicone straws don’t offer the flexibility that those with mobility challenges need and paper straws may disintegrate too quickly or be too easy for people with limited jaw control to bite through.
Beyond straws, Disney is also planning to reduce plastic bags in its parks, making reusable totes available to guests for a small fee, according to the news release. Disney hotels and cruise ships will also begin phasing out plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner, using refillable amenities instead.
“Eliminating plastic straws and other plastic items are meaningful steps in our long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Bob Chapek, chairman with Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products, in the news release.