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Reality Check: Do we use 8.5 billion straws a year in the UK?

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The claim: We use 8.5 billion plastic straws a year in the UK. Reality Check verdict: Nobody knows exactly how many straws are used each year. This figure is based on an estimate for straws used by McDonald's that the fast food company says is double the actual figure. It is therefore likely that 8.5 billion is an overestimate. There was an eye-catching figure in the announcement that the government plans to ban single-use plastic straws.The press release quoted: "a recent study showing 8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away each year in the UK".That is a lot of straws - it's about 130 for everybody in the UK every year.
So where did it come fromA spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) was asked about the reliability of the figure and said: "The 8.5 billion figure is a widely-quoted figure based on research by independent group Eunomia." The same researchers have done further research for the World Wildlife Fund, which estimated that 42 billion straws a year were being used a year in the UK - that's 640 per person.That figure was based on an estimate from a market research company that said 82 thousand tonnes of plastic straws were used in the 28 countries of the EU.Eunomia then divided based on the sizes of the economies of each country (measured by GDP) to get to 15,700 tonnes for the UK and work that out at 0.4 grams per straw.
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