Deliver us, Lord, from the tyranny of plastic. A growing trend has emerged for large companies like Starbucks and American Airlines to ban the use of single-use plastic straws to lessen their impact on the environment, and The Walt Disney Company is following suit. By mid-2019, Disney announced, there will be no plastic straws in any of its theme parks around the world, including the Walt Disney World Resort.
“Eliminating plastic straws and other plastic items are meaningful steps in our long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Bob Chapek, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products. “These new global efforts help reduce our environmental footprint, and advance our long-term sustainability goals.”
While banning plastic straws will not fix the problem of plastic consumption overnight – in 2015 worldwide plastic consumption reached 300 million metric tonnes or 88 pounds of plastic per person on Earth – many believe the decision is a step in the right direction.
“We look at straws as one of the gateway issues to help people start thinking about the global plastic pollution problem,” Plastic Pollution Coalition CEO Dianna Cohen told Business Insider. The sentiment was echoed in a blog post from the Disney announcing the plan to cut plastic straws out of its locations, framing the move as part of a long-term strategy.
According to Disney, this new policy will eliminate the use of 175 million plastic straws and while any dent in plastic consumption is viewed as a positive, some are concerned the ban may have negative consequences for parents more than it would significantly help the environment. The concern being that straws aren’t as dangerous as sippy cups and aid in the development of kids’ mouths while not producing as much plastic waste as other products like plastic bottles.
Disney also plans to eliminate its use of styrofoam cups and offer reusable toiletries on their cruise ships all part of an effort, they say, to live up to Walt Disney’s words: “Conservation isn’t just the business of a few people. It’s a matter that concerns all of us.”