Plastic horror last straw for eateries

Ocean Basket Brooke’s Hill waitress Melissa Madzvamutse holds the straws Ocean Basket wants to replace with biodegradable straws that will break down faster to help save our oceans.
Picture: Eugene Coetzee.

At least three Port Elizabeth restaurants are following in the footsteps of a global campaign to do away with plastic straws at eateries.

Ocean Basket in Humewood and Summerstrand, along with the Algoa Bay Yacht Club (ABYC), have all banned the use of plastic straws, with the harbour eatery challenging every consumer and business to “say no to plastic”.

This follows shocking images which did the rounds on social media of sea creatures dying as a result of mammoth amounts of plastic swirling in the ocean – including straws.

Ocean Basket’s “the last straw” campaign urges customers to join in putting an end to contaminating the sea.

Marketing director Jean Sloane said the franchise had been investigating biodegradable straws since last year.

“In August we asked people to say no to straws in pilot stores [across the country]. Most people were supportive but there are people who still want straws so we started testing various options.”

The franchise experimented with paper straws, which became soggy. And while metal was more permanent it proved unhygienic in a restaurant environment.

This then led to the discovery of a biodegradable option.

“At last we found the option that disintegrates after four to six weeks into the ground but still ensures a pleasant drinking experience.

“These products have now been sourced and will be making their way into all of our stores over the next three months.

“Our pilot project was hugely successful. Once people understood why we were changing, they were very open to the new options and wanted to engage and support the project,” she said.

ABYC house commodore Frank Atkinson said the initiative had been implemented immediately, with a ban on plastic straws.

“All my life I have been fortunate to have lived beside the water and our activities as kids were sailing, swimming, fishing and gathering bait.

“I was subjected first-hand to the horrors caused by carelessly discarded plastic on the marine and wildlife in general.

“What really hit home, however, was a recent screening at the Algoa Bay Yacht Club by Dr Tony Ribbink of a film depicting how floating plastic bags were eaten by dolphins that mistook them for jellyfish.

“And a particularly horrifying look at turtles with plastic drinking straws stuck in their nostrils,” he said.

“Banning of the plastic straws by the club was a small but essential gesture in an attempt to play our part in combating this man-made scourge and our bit to save our seas.”

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