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Scottish town becomes first to ban plastic straws

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All 14 bars and restaurants in Ullapool have ditched plastic straws

Young campaigners from two Scottish primary schools are helping to make Ullapool the first plastic straw free town in the United Kingdom.

All 14 bars, restaurants and cafes in the Ross-shire village are now using non-plastic alternatives, or have stopped offering drinking straws altogether.

The last remaining outlet, the town’s supermarket, has agreed to stop stocking plastic straws early in 2018.

In September pupils from Ullapool Primary School joined forces with Glasgow’s Sunnyside Primary School to lobby local businesses as part of the #NaeStrawAtAw campaign.

The children were supported in their efforts by the Scottish Wildlife Trusts’s Living Seas communities officer Noel Hawkins.

He said: “This achievement is wholly down to pupil-power. The children from Sunnyside Primary School have done a great deal to raise awareness within Glasgow and their enthusiasm rubbed off on the local kids when they came to Ullapool in September.

“The pupils went door to door to speak directly to businesses, and this has clearly had an impact. I’d like to thank everyone involved for taking action after listening to the concerns of these youngsters.

“Living on the coast means we constantly see the impact of a throwaway attitude to plastic, both on our beaches and in our seas.

“Finding plastic drinking straws during beach cleans is particularly frustrating because there alternative products are available.

“This may be a small step towards reducing the amount of plastic in our seas, but if the #NaeStrawAtAw campaign can be successful in Ullapool it can work anywhere. All it takes is for people to be aware there are alternatives to plastic straws, and say no if they are offered one in a pub or a restaurant.”

Cabinet secretary for the environment, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “Congratulations to the Ullapool community for recognising the problem of plastic straws and taking action. This is an example to communities across the country of the bold steps they can take to protect our marine environment.

“The Scottish Government is committed to tackling the issue of ocean plastics and has prioritised actions in its Programme for Government.

“This includes introducing a deposit return scheme to increase recycling rates and reduce littering, considering environmental levies and other options to reduce the demand for single-use products such as coffee-cups, pledging funds to help address the issue of litter sink areas around our coastline and hosting an international conference on protecting our marine environment.”

An average of 138 pieces of food and drink-related waste, including plastic straws, were found on every 100 metres of UK beaches during this year’s Great British Clean.

According to a comprehensive assessment published by the IUCN an estimated 1.5 million tons of plastic are released into the world’s oceans every year.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas Project is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.