A&W Canada to quit using plastic straws by 2019
The fast-food chain A&W has announced plans to eliminate plastic straws at its restaurants in Canada by the end of the year, making it the first restaurant chain of its kind in North America to do so.
Guests will be offered paper straws which can last up to three hours in a drink, then biodegrade in three to six months. The company says the switch will keep roughly 82 million plastic straws out of landfills annually.
"Reducing waste from landfills is a top priority for A&W and this is one big way that we can make a difference," Susan Senecal, A&W Canada's president and CEO, said in a news release. "We are proud to make this change, which has been driven by the wishes of our guests, franchisees, and staff."
A&W made the announcement in Vancouver on Friday, as part of World Oceans Day.
The move comes after years of campaigning by activists to push the restaurant industry away from plastic. In 2015, a video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nose went viral, bringing international attention to the issue. The video has more than 26 million views on YouTube.
Several academic studies have illuminated the problem in recent years. In 2015, a University of Georgia study in the journal Science calculated that nearly 9 million tons (8 million metric tons) of plastic end up bobbing around the world’s oceans and coastlines every year, as of 2010. In April of this year, Australian scientists estimated that there is somewhere between 437 million and 8.3 billion plastic straws on coastlines around the world.