SINGAPORE: More than 270 food and beverage (F&B) outlets in Singapore will phase out plastic straws by Jul 1, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) announced on Monday (Jun 3).
Participating F&B outlets will be removing straws completely from their premises, providing them only on request or for specific medical reasons, WWF said in a media release.
This includes 53 F&B outlets owned by Accor Group, which operates hotels like Raffles, Swissotel and Fairmont, 24 Pastamania outlets, dozens of outlets operated by Wildlife Reserves Singapore and 15 eateries under the Spa Espirit Group including Tiong Bahru Bakery and 40 Hands.
"This is the largest industry commitment so far that addresses the excessive use of plastic disposables in Singapore," said Ms Lotika Mehta, campaigns manager of WWF-Singapore.
The move is part of the PACT (Plastic ACTion) initiative by WWF, which is supported by the National Environment Agency and Zero Waste SG.
People in Singapore use about 2.2 million straws daily, according to a 2018 report by AlphaBeta, The Final Straw and the Cyan Project.
"Straws are a starting point in the move to reducing overall use of plastics by businesses. WWF and Zero Waste SG will continue to work with the F&B industry to reduce unnecessary plastics such as stirrers, cutlery and plastic bottles while working on measures and innovations to tackle the plastic problem," said WWF in the release.
Singapore uses about 1.76 billion plastic items each year, according to Singapore Environment Council’s position paper published in 2018. This includes 820 million plastic bags from supermarkets, 467 million PET bottles and 473 million plastic disposable items.
"This is a great example of voluntary action by businesses, and while we work with the group on next steps, we encourage more brands to join the effort," said Kim Stengert, WWF-Singapore's chief of Strategic Communication and External Relations.
READ: Skipping plastic straws might not do much to stop marine pollution, experts say
According to Singstat, there were more than 7,500 food establishments in Singapore in 2016, - the 270 outlets participating in PACT comprise about 3.5 per cent of the total number.
Other F&B outlets participating in the PACT initiative include A Poke Theory, Grand Hyatt Singapore, Kraftwich, Nando's Singapore, SaladStop and Jones the Grocer. Straws will also no longer be given out at all in-house catering and events at Suntec Convention Centre.
In December 2018, Yakult Singapore said it would no longer provide straws with its probiotic cultured milk drinks, and that it was looking at alternative materials to replace plastic as part of its packaging.
Single-use plastic items will be banned in the European Union by 2021, following a vote by EU lawmakers on Mar 27. EU countries will also have to collect and recycle at least 90 per cent of beverage bottles by 2029.
In December 2018, Bali banned single-use plastics, and aims for a 70 per cent reduction in Bali's marine plastics by 2019.
Malaysia plans to abolish single-use plastics by 2030, with the Federal Territories Ministry banning plastic straws in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan from Jan 1, 2019. Businesses that are found to be still using plastic straws risk having their licences terminated.
PACT was launched by WWF in 2019 with the aim of “No Plastics in Nature” by 2030. Participating businesses pledge to remove unnecessary plastics while reviewing product design or switching to sustainable alternatives.