WILDLIFE experts have praised CalMac after the ferry operator became the latest Ross-shire name to back an anti-plastic campaign which began with Ullapool and Glasgow school children and went viral.
The ferry operator has confirmed that it will ditch plastic straws on board all of its vessels in response to the #NaeStrawAtAw campaign.
It follows other successes in the region – with pupils in Ullapool Primary School convincing all pubs and shops in the Wester Ross village to stop using and selling the straws.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust’s living seas communities officer, Noel Hawkins, said: "I’d like to congratulate all of the people and businesses in Scotland who have listened and committed to reducing their plastic usage to help protect our seas and wildlife.
"In order to stem the flow of plastic waste that is harming Scotland’s marine wildlife we will also need communities and businesses who aren’t as close to the coast to realise they can make a difference, but it definitely feels as if the tide is turning though great campaigns like #NaeStrawAtAw."
Moves to cut plastic waste have been gathering pace in recent months, after the BBC’s landmark Blue Planet II documentary series highlighted the damage it was doing to the world’s oceans.
Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes, who has championed the #NaeStrawAtAw campaign and also attended Ullapool Primary School as a child, praised CalMac’s announcement: "This is tremendous news. CalMac staff, of all people, will no doubt see the impact of single-use plastics on our coastline and wildlife as they serve communities right along the west coast."
Ms Forbes had written to CalMac earlier this month asking them to make the change, with pupils at Sunnyside Primary in Glasgow following suit.
"It is a tribute to CalMac’s vision and leadership that it was willing to consider the importance of this campaign to ban plastic straws and then back it," she said.
"They are leading the way and I hope that other transport organisations, such as ScotRail follow CalMac’s lead.
"I launched this campaign to ditch plastic straws in January because I firmly believe that Scotland should be leading the way.
"Banning plastic straws will improve our scenery and the quality of our food."
Confirming an end to straws on its ships, and moves to cut its use of other single use plastics, CalMac’s environmental manager, Klare Chamberlain, said: "The company is extremely concerned about marine litter and the blight it can have on the marine environment across the west coast.
‘We have been working with our suppliers over the last year or so to identify alternatives to single-use plastics and with our waste contractors to ensure than any alternatives can be suitably managed.
"I am delighted that CalMac Ferries can support #NaeStrawAtAw and ban plastic straws on-board and look forward to spreading word of the campaign.
"All other sources of single use plastics on board are also under review and we hope to be able to announce further changes over the coming months."