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Increasingly, companies here in Britain and elsewhere are joining that campaign, too. Last week, McDonald’s became the latest to do so. The fast food chain outlined plans to phase out plastic straws across its 1,361 restaurants in Britain, which currently use 1.8 million plastic straws a day, by the end of next year.
The drive to reduce the use of plastics has accelerated considerably in Britain. A million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals die from eating or getting tangled in plastic waste each year, according to the British government. But a recent BBC documentary series, “Blue Planet II,” dramatically increased awareness through scenes in which birds traveled thousands of miles to find food for their young only to accidentally feed them plastic.
In previous years, British authorities have forced stores to charge for plastic bags and banned the manufacturing of products containing plastic microbeads. The government has also proposed going further, with a ban on the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton swabs with plastic stems.
Britain isn’t alone in its efforts.
Prompted as much by environmental imperatives as by China’s sudden refusal to take in vast quantities of garbage for processing, other places have moved against plastic. The European Union has proposed bans on plastic products like single-use drinks containers and sticks for balloons as part of its effort to reduce marine litter by 30 percent by 2020. More than 40 countries around the world have introduced measures to restrict or reduce the use of plastic bags.
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