Laine Pub Co, the Brighton based pub operator, has announced today that it is ceasing the serving of plastic straws with drinks in all of its 55 pubs. Instead, the pubs will be offering customers reusable metal straws or paper straws which biodegrade. The company, which was an early licensed trade adopter of sustainable business practices, reckons this current move will stop over 2 million plastic straws a year from entering the ecosystem.
The idea to phase out plastic straws began after Laine’s management partners Becky and Matt Andrews, and their team at The Tempest Inn on Brighton seafront, decided to minimise the impact that their pub and others were having on the beach environment, particularly after a busy summer weekend. The team started by setting up a beach clean initiative which continues to this day, and out of that grew the “Straws Suck” campaign. “We cut out plastic straws a year ago now,” says Matt, “and offered our customers reusable steel straws.”
“We initially had to explain the devastating environmental impact of plastic in the oceans,” continues Becky, "but pretty much everyone understood and has been supportive of the steel straws, to the extent that we now receive bookings solely based on our zero tolerance for plastic straws.”
But saving 400,000 plastic straws per year from The Tempest was just the start of the Straws Suck campaign and Becky and her colleagues were keen to keep the momentum up. They put the idea of banning plastic straws in the rest of Laine’s pub estate to CEO Gavin George, and then set about showing every Laine’s management partner how best to manage the transition from plastic straws to reusable or biodegradable alternatives. With Laine’s 55 pubs in Brighton and London now phasing out plastic straws completely, the Straws Suck campaigners aim to garner support for straw alternatives from other retailers in the wider sector.
Brighton MP and joint leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, applauded the campaign saying, “It’s brilliant that the Straws Suck campaign is raising awareness about the damage plastic straws cause to our natural environment, in particular our oceans. I’m delighted that the Laine Pub Company have agreed to use alternatives to plastic, and I hope that others follow their lead. With The Tempest on the seafront using around 400,000 straws a year, the switch away from plastic will make a significant difference.”
Becky Andrews added, “As a trained scuba diver, I’m already acutely aware of the environmental impact that mankind is having on life beneath the waves. But I’m pleased that the persistence of environmental campaigners is allowing awareness of this impact to enter the general consciousness and that this is leading to change. I’m hopeful that in the not too distant future, plastic straws will go the way of the plastic shopping bag.”