Merlin to phase out plastic straws by end of 2018

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The scourge of plastic waste across the oceans has piqued the public conscience like no other environmental campaign in many a year. From images of whales dying to beaches covered in plastic bottles, the response to the issue has been rapid with businesses, usually the last to set sail on the environment, setting the agenda. Merlin Entertainments have nailed their colours to the no-plastic mast.

Blackpool Tower and amusement parks operator Merlin Entertainments is to phase out the use of plastic straws within all of its owned attractions worldwide by the end of 2018.

Merlin will replace them with paper alternatives and only provide where it is either a requirement for the product or upon visitor request at all food and beverage outlets throughout its estate.

Chessington World of Adventures was one of Merlin’s first attractions to remove plastic straws completely from its park and hotels in time for the start of its 2018 peak season, and from 1 November this year, all plastic straws and plastic bags across Merlin’s attractions in Australia and New Zealand have been eliminated.

The move comes as Merlin reviews single-use plastic within its operations as part of its efforts to reduce unnecessary packaging and environmentally harmful consumables from its retail stores and food and beverage outlets.

Nick Varney, Merlin Entertainments chief executive officer, com mented:“Like many of our guests, we are concerned about the negative environmental impact associated with the disposal of plastic straws – and we have an even deeper reason for taking action across our business, given that our Sea Life teams champion these issues on a daily basis.

“It is something we can act on immediately as we continue to assess how we minimise the use of plastics within our business.”

The phasing-out of straws is one part of a broad review Merlin is conducting of its plastic use, as it aims to remove“ unnecessary packaging and environmentally harmful consumables” from its food and beverage and retail outlets.

The firm has already stopped selling bottled water in its staff offices, replacing them with refillable bottles and water coolers.

It has also installed new recycling facilities at several of its attractions in a bid to incentivise recycling among visitors and educate the general public how to avoid negatively impacting the environment.

This summer, Merlin partnered with Coca-Cola Great Britain this summer to offer 50 per cent discounts on entry to attractions such as Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and Legoland in exchange for used plastic drinks bottles.

Companies across the country have made the moved to become more environmentally conscious, and government consultation is currently underway on how best to implement policies that will eliminate the sale and distribution of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds across the UK by 2020.

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