1. Plastic Straws can’t be easily Recycled
Straws are most commonly made from type 5 plastic, or polypropylene.
Although type 5 plastic can be recycled, it isn’t accepted by most curbside recycling programs. When plastic straws aren’t recycled, they end up in landfills, or even worse, polluting our oceans.
Make sure you check your local municipality website to see if plastic straws can be recycled in your area.
2. Plastics do not Biodegrade, and never fully Degrade
In order to understand the environmental impact of straws, it is important to know the difference between biodegrading and degrading:
Biodegrading is when an item can be naturally broken down and digested by micro-organisms, and then naturally recycled into new organic molecules and life.
On the other hand, degrading is just the process of breaking down into smaller pieces. When plastic degrades, the bulk of the plastic will seem to disappear – However, what’s really happening is the plastic is breaking into smaller, invisible pieces that will always still be on Earth.
With that being said, plastic straws take up to 200 years to degrade, but will never be fully off the Earth, as plastics are not biodegradable. To make matters worse, the degrading of plastic releases chemicals that are toxic to wildlife and the environment.
3. Straws are littered very often, and harm Ocean Wildlife
Whenever there is an ocean coastline cleanup, plastic straws never fail to make it on the list of one of the most found ocean litter.
And, as of early 2018, data from Ocean Conservancy’s TIDES system shows us that straws/stirrers are the 11th most found ocean trash in cleanups.
Update: Straws are currently the 8th most found ocean trash in cleanups by quanity (January 2019).
All these straws and plastic polluting our oceans is having a negative impact on marine life.