VIDEO: WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - Environmentalists call for Sheffield pubs to be banned from serving drinks with plastic straws

Megan McGrath with the poster.
Megan McGrath with the poster.

A campaign to stop Sheffield pubs from serving drinks with plastic straws in to help protect marine life has been supported by hundreds of people.

The University of Sheffield students' union said millions of plastic straws end up in the ocean from landfill which is causing injury and death to fish and other marine life.

It has now launched a campaign urging the city's bars and clubs to do their bit to tackle the issue by putting an end to serving drinks with plastic straws in.

The union wants pubs to get rid of boxes of self service straws from the bar and to only provide straws if a customer specifically asks for one from behind the bar after receiving their drink.

The campaign has been supported by Sheffield's popular Peddler Market event and around 800 people have signed a petition backing the cause in just two weeks. Campaigners also plan to lobby the authorities to introduce new rules on the sale of plastic straws.

Megan McGrath, aged 22, development officer for the union, said: "Straws are regarded as the lowest grade of plastic so they often go to landfill and because they are quite light, they can get washed away into streams and rivers, and then ultimately the ocean.

"Plastic straws are one of the top 10 items of litter in the ocean and marine life often mistake them for food and eat them, leading to injury or even death.

"It then also gets in the food chain and ends up being harmful to humans aswell."

She added Peddler Market adopted the straws policy at their latest event in Kelham Island in early November and bar staff only used one box of straws instead of the usual eight or nine.

The hashtag #StrawFreeSheffield campaign has been trending on Twitter and more than 180 people attended a launch event at the union in October.

It is also part of the university union's wider campaign called Reusable Revolution to highlight the harmful effects of throwing away plastics on the environment.

Megan added that once the petition reaches 1000 signatures they will present it to Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield in the hope that he can raise the issue in Parliament.

The document will also be handed to the council and the union has pledged as a 'longer-term goal' to lobby the council to look into making it a rule that bars and clubs can only hand out plastic straws on request.

It is reported that around 8.5 billion straws are used in the UK every year and similar campaigns have been launched in other parts of the country.

Pub chain JD Wetherspoons also recently announced that they will switch to using biodegradable paper straws at its 900 pubs across the UK and Ireland by the end of the year.

Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, urged bars to "switch to re-useable alternatives to disposable items like plastic straws."

Bars and clubs wanting to support the campaign can contact Megan for a poster at megan.mcgrath@sheffield.ac.uk