Wildlife-friendly alternatives to plastic straws

Last updated: 31 August 2022

Single-use plastics ban

Victoria will be phasing out problematic single-use plastics. The ban includes single-use plastic straws.

Plastic straws are one of the most common litter items found on beaches and harming marine life across the world.

The ban will come into effect by February 2023. Government departments will lead the way by phasing out items by February 2022.

Government will work with the aged care and disability sectors to understand and develop exemptions for people who require straws or other single-use plastics.

Read about the single-use plastics ban

The problem with plastic straws

Australians use about 10 million single-use plastic straws every day. This adds up to a huge 3.5 billion a year – no wonder they are one of the most common items polluting our otherwise beautiful beaches and harming marine animals.

It is estimated that 8 million tonnes of plastic pollute our oceans every year.

Plastic doesn't biodegrade in the ocean. Instead, it simply breaks down over hundreds of years into smaller pieces called microplastics.

These microplastics can be ingested by the smallest phytoplankton through to the biggest whale. Microplastics can block digestive tracts of marine life and reduce their urge to eat, causing some species to starve and die.

We use plastic straws for an average of 20 minutes, but they stay around for approximately 600 years.

So, when it comes to plastic straws, simply say no, or BYO.

How you can avoid using a plastic straw

For people with disability, a plastic straw can be non-negotiable as they provide a safe way to drink.

For those people who can get by without using one, there are plenty of options that make it easy to avoid this single-use plastic.

Switch up your plastic straw for no straw at all

If you don’t really need it, avoid it. This applies when you’re at home just as much as when you're out at a bar, club or restaurant.

Simply add 'no straw please' to your order, just as you would say 'no plastic bag please' when you’re at the supermarket checkout.

BYO straw

There are plenty of alternatives to using a plastic straw. More and more people choose to refuse plastic straws and keep a reusable straw in their bag so they never get caught out at a café when enjoying a cold drink.

Reusable straws are available in silicon, glass or metal and come in a range of different styles and colours.

Why plastic straws can't be recycled

Unlike a lot of hard plastics which can go into your recycling bin at home, plastic straws cannot be recycled. Yes, straws are a hard plastic even though they can bend.

As they travel down the conveyor belt at a recycling facility, small items like straws fall through the cracks of the machinery. They end up either in landfill for years or pollute our oceans and waterways, harming marine life.