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Environment

SeaWorld, Royal Caribbean Latest to Ban Single-Use Plastics

By Joanna Prisco

Is the fight against single-use plastics finally experiencing a tidal change?

Less than two weeks after startling images circulated the Internet of a pilot whale that died from swallowing 17 pounds of plastic bags, SeaWorld and Royal Caribbean have joined a growing number of businesses, governments, and individuals across the world in banning the products from their properties.

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Eight million metric tons of plastic pollute the world’s oceans each year, or what amounts to “one garbage truck into the ocean every minute,” according to a 2016 report released by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

In response to recent activism, SeaWorld Entertainment announced last Thursday that its 12 theme parks had removed “all single-use plastic drinking straws and single-use plastic shopping bags,” reported the Washington Post.

“[The decision is] a testament to our mission to protect the environment, the ocean, and animals … which are currently threatened by unprecedented amounts of plastic pollution,” said interim chief executive John Reilly in a prepared statement.

Read More: Ikea Will Phase Out Single-Use Plastics From Its Stores by 2020

Royal Caribbean joined the mission the same day, announcing that it would commit to rid its fleet of 50 ships of plastic straws by the end of the year.

The company noted in a press release that it had already introduced a policy of “straws upon request,” but that by 2019 guests who desired a straw would receive a paper alternative to plastic.

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"Healthy oceans are vital to the success of our company," said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., in the statement. "For over 25 years, our Save the Waves program has guided us to reduce, reuse, and recycle everything we can. Eliminating single-use plastics is another step in that program."

But not everyone is as eager to climb aboard the Good Ship Anti-Plastic.

While some American hospitality brands like Starbucks have already committed to banning plastic straws at locations in Europe, the coffee purveyor has so far resisted calls to do so on U.S. soil, reported the Washington Post.

Read More: Even the Most Remote Region in the World Is Polluted With Plastic

Meanwhile, McDonald’s shareholders voted against supporting a proposal to “undertake a report on the risks associated with the restaurant’s continued use of plastic straws,” the Washington Post noted.

Both companies claim to be pursuing independent conservation initiatives.

Global Citizen campaigns to protect the environment and halt climate change. You can take action here to help preserve our planet by encouraging companies and people to find alternatives to plastic.