Deeply Talks: Big Business Joins Fight Against Ocean Plastic Pollution

A growing wave of multinational corporations is pledging to stop handing out single-use plastic straws. Listen to Lonely Whale’s Dune Ives discuss the global momentum against disposable plastic and efforts to create a new ocean-friendly plastic supply chain.

Written by Lindsay Abrams Published on Read time Approx. 1 minutes
Plastic trash on a beach near Athens, Greece.Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

Plastic straws are designed to be used once, but they remain in the environment nearly forever, contributing to the ocean plastic pollution crisis. In recent weeks, multinational corporations like Starbucks, Bacardi, Marriott, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and other name brands have pledged to eliminate or phase out single-use plastic straws.

In this episode of Deeply Talks, Todd Woody, News Deeply’s executive editor for environment, discusses the growing global momentum to ban plastic straws with Dune Ives, executive director of the environmental group Lonely Whale, whose “Stop Sucking” campaign helped kick-start the movement.

According to Ives, this movement is reaching a tipping point, as signaled by the growing number of corporations – including announcements last week from food services giant Aramark and Disney that they will phase out single-use straws and other plastic items.

The recent spate of corporate pledges, said Ives, “sends a signal to the supply chain that there’s something different afoot that we need to start planning for.” It’s also creating an opportunity for environmental entrepreneurs to meet these companies’ needs for sustainable alternatives to single-use straws, she added.

Ives also spoke about NextWave, a consortium of Dell, General Motors and other corporations convened by Lonely Whale that is developing a supply chain to intercept ocean-bound plastics before they pollute the water and convert them into the raw materials for use in products that range from furniture to automotive parts and bicycle accessories.

More corporations, she predicted, are going to see addressing plastic pollution as an opportunity to bolster their brand – and the failure to do so as a potential pitfall. “Now if you’re not on the bandwagon, your customers are going to start asking you why,” said Ives, “and your investors are going to start asking you, ‘What is your brand risk of having your logo on that piece of plastic floating in the water?’”

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