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Whisky Association Joins Scottish Campaign to Drop Plastic Straws

By / Jan 30, 2018 (sad444/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Following the lead of a newspaper’s campaign, the Scotch Whisky Association will ban plastic straws at its organization and encourage its members to do the same. The move is the latest front in a growing campaign against plastic straws, which are seen as dangerous to the environment.

First, Seattle dropped straws for a month. Could Scotland drop them next—for good? And how could the Scotch Whisky Association help?

Recently, a newspaper in Scotland, the Sunday Mail, announced The Last Straw, a campaign that aims to make Scotland the first country in Europe to drop plastic straws, citing the fact that they’re not biodegradable and often end up as ocean waste. The campaign has drawn the support of local politicians such as Scottish Parliament member Kate Forbes, along with environmental groups such as Greenpeace and the Marine Conservation Society Scotland.

“With a little effort and ingenuity, we may get to the final straw faster than we think and rid our oceans of this needless scourge for good,” Greenpeace spokesperson Louise Edge said to the newspaper.

(Side note: The Sunday Mail, the sister paper of the Daily Record, is different from the Daily Mail, the London-based publication that is probably better known in the U.S.)

Even the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, which represents pub owners, has suggested it might join in the initiative.

But Scotland is well known for its whisky, making the support of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) particularly notable. The group, which has had an environmental strategy since at least 2009, recently announced that it plans to ban plastic straws and drink stirrers from both its offices and its events, and will encourage its members—which include massive global beverage conglomerates like Bacardi, Pernod Ricard, and Diageo—to do the same. (Pernod Ricard and Diageo have already pledged to phase out plastic straws and stirrers across their businesses.)

The group, in a news release, calls it a “logical extension” of its existing efforts.

“Our commitment to phasing out the use of all plastic straws and stirrers from all our offices, industry and events is yet another signal of our commitment to the environment,” SWA CEO Karen Betts said in the release. “It is encouraging to see Scotch Whisky producers taking steps to phase out unnecessary plastics. We hope that this SWA commitment will lead to the industry uniting behind biodegradable alternatives so that Scotch Whisky cocktails can continue to be enjoyed without discarded plastics continuing to have a damaging impact on land as well as at sea.”

SWA’s efforts highlight an upswing for the Sunday Mail’s campaign, which also managed to convince the passenger railroad ScotRail to drop plastic straws.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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