Wellington's waterfront bars and eateries declared plastic straw free

Cold glass with cola and ice cubes
Photo credit: Getty/ file

Plastic straws have been banned from 26 cafes, bars and restaurants that stretch along Wellington's waterfront in an effort to protect the environment.

US exchange students Heather MacDougall and Katie Timzen came up with the scheme while interning at Wellington City Council and Sustainable Coastlines, and they want to spread the campaign across the city and country.

"Each year Sustainable Coastlines pick up over 10,000 plastic straws from Wellington beaches alone, putting them in the top five of items in beach clean-up audits," Ms MacDougall said.

"It can take up to 200 years for a single plastic straw to break down in the ocean, and with some restaurants using up to 800 straws a week, that is taking its toll on landfills and the environment."

From the Wellington Railway Station to the Freyberg Pool at Oriental Bay, cafes, bars, and restaurants have scrapped plastic straws and will instead offer biodegradable, paper, and metal alternatives for those who still want to use straws.

Any stallholders and food trucks at the waterfront including the weekly Harbourside Market are also required to be plastic straw free.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester said: "It is exciting that Wellington could be the first plastic straw-free city in New Zealand. There has already been an amazing response to this initiative and now that the waterfront is 100 percent plastic straw-free, our target is the rest of the city."

Campaigners will be working to encourage the rest of the city to join the campaign.