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Japan

Tokyo hotel plans to ditch plastic straws in favour of newly-developed wooden alternative

  • The new disposable straws are made by curling thin slices of timber obtained from forest thinning operations in domestic plantations
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2018, 4:55pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2018, 10:57pm

A hotel operator in Tokyo said on Tuesday that it will trial wooden straws in its restaurant from January while banning plastic straws in all dining facilities and its bar by next April amid global efforts to reduce marine plastic pollution.

The new disposable straws, developed by The Capitol Hotel Tokyu Company and wooden housebuilder Aqurahome, are made by curling thinly sliced domestic plantation timbers obtained from forest thinning operations.

The straws, the brainchild of environmental journalist Yuri Takeda, will be used in the hotel’s restaurant “ORIGAMI” from January 16.

The hotel and the residential construction company said they hope the use of wooden straws will improve people’s understanding of sustainable forestry. Practices like the thinning of plantation forests promote the growth of remaining trees.

Why giving up your plastic straw won’t save the planet

Wood is a much more expensive material than plastic for making straws, with wooden straws costing as much as several dozen yen each, while plastic ones cost as little as 1 yen (US$0.01).

However, it is hoped that the cost will come down as more places adopt the environmentally friendly alternatives.

The move in Tokyo came as major companies including coffee chain Starbucks and Walt Disney are stepping up efforts to ditch plastic straws in an effort to protect the marine environment.

Other companies have begun distributing alternatives such as paper straws.