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Restaurant operator Skylark to ban plastic straws by 2020

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Major restaurant chain operator Skylark Holdings Co. said Friday it will eliminate single-use plastic straws from all of its restaurants by 2020 in an effort to address marine pollution from plastic waste.

Skylark will stop using plastic straws at all 3,200 of its restaurant by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games, it said. As a first step, it will remove disposable plastic straws at its 1,370 Gusto restaurants by the end of the year.

Skylark is the first major Japanese restaurant chain operator to announce a ban on plastic straws, according to a company spokeswoman.

The move comes as major companies such as coffee chain Starbucks Corp. and Walt Disney Co. are stepping up efforts to ditch plastic straws as the materials' role in ocean pollution has raised global alarm.

Plastics, used in straws, grocery bags and many other products, do not disintegrate naturally in the environment. Some 4 million to 12 million tons of plastic waste are estimated to flow into the oceans every year, greatly affecting marine ecosystems and environment. There will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050, according to an estimate by the United Nations.

Skylark said it is considering alternatives such as straws using biodegradable materials.

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