Plastic Straw Law – What Are The Rules?

In recent years the debate surrounding plastic straw use has raged and as a staple of the bubble tea industry it's important for bubble tea shop owners to know the rules.

The proliferation of plastic straws through the fast food and delivery industry has raised the important topic of the levels of waste generated by the food and beverage industry. And as large diameter straws, to suck up the famous tapioca balls, are ubiquitous it is important for bubble tea shop owners to know the rules surrounding plastic straws.

In July 2021 the law changed in the UK to effectively ban the distribution of plastic straws. Paper and Bamboo straws (more on these in a future blog post!) have replaced plastic to a large extent, but what are the rules?

The Law on Plastic Straws in the UK

Establishments must not sell plastic straws as standard and must instead offer alternatives such as paper and bamboo. Although most paper straws have some kind of plastic inner lining these do still count as non-plastic. This does not mean that plastic straws are banned completely, there are exemptions that allow retailers to still offer plastic straws:

  • keep straws where customers cannot see them or help themselves to them.
  • only give straws to customers that request them.
  • not offer them to customers either verbally or in writing.

In practice this means that plastic straws can be kept behind the counter and given to customers who ask. But you should not be the one to offer plastic straws and paper or bamboo should be the standard.

The Future

Some retailers have clung to the plastic straws that we were used to. However, forward-looking establishments quickly made the switch to paper and many are looking towards Bamboo. Bamboo straws offer the rigidity and durability of plastic straws while having the eco-friendly recyclability credentials of paper.

Keep an eye on our product stock for future offerings here.