Nets, Islanders’ Arenas Say Goodbye to Plastic Straws

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By Patrick Ambrosio

The next stop on Elton John’s farewell tour also marks the latest step in a growing sustainability trend—the venue he is playing won’t offer plastic straws at concession stands.

NYCB Live, a 15,000 seat sports and concert arena on Long Island, is rolling out a new straw policy Oct. 9, according to Mandy Gutmann, vice president of communications for BSE Global, which operates the arena and other entertainment venues in New York. It is the second New York sports arena operated by BSE to do that in less than a week—the Barclays Center in Brooklyn eliminated plastic straws starting with an Oct. 6 hockey game.

Barclays Center, which hosts the NHL’s New York Islanders and NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, won’t automatically provide a straw with drinks at all future events at the arena. However, biodegradeable straws will be available upon request and plastic straws will be provided to guests with medical needs who require them, Gutmann told Bloomberg Environment in an email.

The New York arenas are the latest entertainment venues to eliminate plastic straws, which have emerged as a symbol of the world’s plastic pollution problem.

Straw restrictions are already in place at Seattle’s football and baseball stadiums, Chicago White Sox home games, the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and Live Nation concert venues across the country. The Walt Disney Co. pledged to eliminate plastic straws at its theme parks by the middle of 2019.

BSE Global estimates that the new policy at Barclays and NYCB Live, which both will host Islanders games this year, will divert about 5.5 million straws from landfills each year.

The “on-demand” policy, in which customers have to ask for a straw, has been the most popular option businesses have taken to reduce plastic straw waste, according to Dune Ives, executive director of Lonely Whale, an environment advocacy organization focused on reducing plastic pollution.

While biodegradeable alternatives are more expensive than plastic straws, businesses likely won’t see additional costs if they require customers to ask for straws because of the associated drop in demand, Ives told Bloomberg Environment.

“Considering a business owner’s bottom line was important to our team from the very conception of this initiative,” Ives said. “For this reason, we suggest businesses use a ‘straw on demand’ policy, which can decrease the amount of straws used by consumers by 80-90 percent.”

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