Merlin Entertainments begins single-use plastic phase out, starting with straws

The Legolands, Sea Life and Madame Tussauds operator has launched a review into the sale and distribution of single-use plastic items across its global estate, pledging a removal of plastic straws from its operations by the end of 2018.

Merlin Entertainments operates more than 120 attractions worldwide, including Thorpe Park and Legoland in the UK

Merlin Entertainments operates more than 120 attractions worldwide, including Thorpe Park and Legoland in the UK

Merlin Entertainments committed on Friday (23 November) to phase out plastic straws from its entire estate of 124 attractions by the end of 2018, replacing them with paper alternatives and only providing these on request.

The move comes after a plastic straw ban at Chessington World of Adventures, which came into force at the beginning of its peak season this spring, proved to be a success.

Elsewhere, Merlin Entertainments has already removed plastic straws and single-use plastic carrier bags from its attractions in Australia and New Zealand.

“Like many of our guests, we are concerned about the negative environmental impact associated with the disposal of plastic straws – and we have an even deeper reason for taking action across our business, given that our Sea Life teams champion these issues on a daily basis,” Merlin Entertainments’ chief executive officer Nick Varney said.

“It is something we can act on immediately as we continue to assess how we minimise the use of plastics within our business.”

The straw phase-out forms part of a broad review of Merlin Entertainments’ plastic use, as it strives to remove all “unnecessary packaging and environmentally harmful consumables” from its retail stores and food and beverage outlets.

The company has already stopped selling bottled water in its staff offices, replacing them with refillable bottles and water coolers.

It has also installed new recycling facilities across several of its attractions – including Sea Life in Brighton – in a bid to incentivise recycling among visitors and educate the general public on the importance of closed-loop systems.

Plastics action

The move from Merlin Entertainments comes after the firm partnered with Coca-Cola Great Britain this summer to offer 50% discounts on entry to attractions such as Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and Legoland in exchange for used plastic drinks bottles.

Under the partnership, Coca-Cola placed onsite reverse vending machines – which enable automated collecting, sorting and handling of returned or used plastic bottles for recycling or reuse – at Alton Towers Resort, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and Legoland Windsor for a three-month period.

Merlin Entertainments’ new straw pledge builds on similar moves across the attractions and events sphere, with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) having made moves to reduce the plastic waste footprint of its Nitto Tennis Finals event in London earlier this month.

Elsewhere, The Premier League recently pledged to eliminate all single-use plastics from its operations and supply chains in the next two years as part of its partnership with Sky.

The moves come as the Government consults on how best to implement policies that will eliminate the sale and distribution of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds across the UK by 2020.

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