Wagamama has announced that it will be ending its use of plastic straws.
The chain, which serves Asian food inspired by the flavours of Japan, has stopped automatically providing plastic straws to customers across its 128 UK restaurants, and is only handing them out on request or with juices that need stirring.
It will stop providing them altogether from Earth Day on April 22 and instead will be offering a biodegradable paper alternative.
The chain said the move would prevent seven million single-use plastic straws polluting the environment each year.
Wagamama chief executive Jane Holbrook said: “I am personally passionate about a positive and sustainable relationship between the environment and our brand.
“At Wagamama, we are constantly looking to make improvements and reducing the amount of non-recyclable waste we produce is one example of our ‘kaizen’ (good change) philosophy in action.”
Friends of the Earth waste campaigner Julian Kirby said: “Wagamama’s decision to end the use of plastic straws is a welcome move which other restaurants will hopefully follow.
“This is a significant step in the right direction, but we need far bigger strides from government, industry and retailers to properly tackle the scourge of plastic waste and its impact on our environment.”
Elena Polisano, an ocean campaigner at Greenpeace UK told HuffPost UK: “Plastic straws are among the worst examples of the unnecessary throwaway plastic threatening our oceans. They can do real harm to marine life, whether they get stuck up a turtle’s nose or in a fish’s mouth.
“With a little effort and ingenuity, we may get to the last straw faster than we think and rid our oceans of this needless scourge for good.”
Wagamama’s decision follows Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement of a plan aimed at eliminating avoidable plastic waste within 25 years, and the recommendation by MPs of a 25p “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups.
It comes amid rising concern about the problem of plastic waste in the oceans, harming and killing wildlife and entering the food chain – highlighted most recently in the BBC’s Blue Planet II documentary.
Last year, JD Wetherspoon announced it had stopped automatically putting straws in drinks and would offer paper straws in its 900 pubs instead.
Designer Dame Vivienne Westwood recently backed the online campaign Refuse the Straw, calling on people to refuse straws and start drinking from the glass.