Scottish MSP Kate Forbes has officially launched her Final Straw campaign which calls on Scottish and UK Governments to ban plastic straws.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch is highlighting the damage caused by single-use disposable plastic items to both onshore and marine environment in Scotland.

Items such as plastic straws can take up to 500 years to decompose, despite only being used for less than half an hour. It is estimated that in Scotland £3 billion straws every year are thrown out, based on US estimates of people using an average of 1.6 straws per day every year.

Ms Forbes wants to see the use of plastic straws banned but stressed: “Any ban has got to be UK-wide because the sea does not respect country borders and plastic straws washed out to sea in the south of England could easily end up on the Highland coastline.

“That’s why my campaign calls on both the UK and Scottish governments to crack down on plastic straws as part of an overall strategy to ban single-use, disposable items such as cotton buds and throwaway cutlery where environmentally-friendly alternatives exist.”

She also called on pubs and restaurants to “stop handing out straws automatically and to only provide biodegradable alternatives” – saying the pub chain Wetherspoons had already done so.

Ullapool recently became what it believed to be the first village in the UK to halt the use of plastic straws in all bars, restaurants and cafés after a campaign by school pupils.

Marine Conservation Society has given support for the campaign. Scotland conservation officer Catherine Gemmell said: “It is fantastic to see MSP Kate Forbes call for a ban on plastic straws as they are one of the many single-use plastic items that we find rising in numbers on our beaches, in our seas and impacting our wildlife.

“A straw is only used for minutes, yet will remain in the environment and our oceans for hundreds of years to come.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said it would be “appointing an expert panel to advise on the use of charges and other measures to reduce use of single-use items, which will help towards our ambitious target of reducing all waste by 15% by 2025.”

She added: “With the support of this panel, we will consider the range of ways we could reduce use of throwaway items like plastic straws that are littering our land and seas.
“We all have a role to play in this and we would encourage people to think about whether they need to use such items.”