Plastic Straw Pollution Facts

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

The fact is plastic straws are very popular in our daily life but in general, it has bad impact on the environment (especially marine life). In the US only, an estimated 500 million plastic straws are discharged every day and most of them end up in the oceans, polluting water and killing marine life. And there are more than 8.3 billion tonnes plastic straws located on the entire coastline of the world.


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In this article, we can learn about the pollution facts of plastic and how you can make a big difference just by rejecting the use of these straws and use alternative ones instead. Because if we don’t act now, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.


1. Plastic Straws can’t be easily recyclable.

Only ~ 9% of plastics are recycled. That means 91% of them will be discharged to the nature.

Plastic straws are usually made of type 5 plastic or polypropylene. Although type 5 plastic can be recycled, it is not accepted by most roadside recycling programs.


The plastic straw is too light to pass a mechanical recycling sorter. They pass through sorting sieves and mix with other materials and are too small to separate, contaminating recycling loads, or be disposed of as garbage. When plastic straws are not recycled, they get buried for years and waterways leading to rivers and oceans, harming marine life.


2. Plastic straws are not biodegradable

To understand the environmental impact of straws, it is important to know the difference between biodegrading and degrading.


- Biodegrading is when an item can be naturally broken down and digested by micro-organisms, and then naturally recycled into new organic molecules and life.


- Degrading is just the process of breaking something down into smaller pieces. When plastic degrades, the bulk of the plastic will seem to disappear. However, in fact, the plastic is still here, just smaller pieces and survive for thousands of years.


Plastic straws take up to 200 years to degrade but never totally off the Earth. And this process can release toxic chem