In support of World Environment Day, Food Lover’s Market has withdrawn its plastic straws in all their stores. Picture: AP Photo/Barbara Woike, File

Cape Town - Marking World Environment Day on Tuesday and to reduce their plastic footprint, Food Lover’s Market announced that it has withdrawn plastic straws in all their stores. 

The fresh produce retailer is launching a Withdraw The Straw campaign that will see the removal of plastic straws and the introduction of paper straws nationwide. 

“The Withdraw the Straw project is in line with the philosophy of sustainable values, that embraces our responsibility to the environment.  The facts around plastic straws are shocking and its one of the most common items found during beach clean ups. As they are lightweight and easily blown away by the wind, they often end up in our marine waters. Animals - such as seagulls and turtles - ingest these plastics which can lead to their deaths,” said Andrew Millson, Head of Sustainability for the Food Lover’s Market Group.

"As of July, shoppers will have a choice of purchasing a paper bag or a box for their purchases, instead of a plastic bag," said the retailer in a statement.

According to statistics, about 1 million plastic straws are being discarded around the world. A staggering 5 trillion pieces of plastic are floating in the oceans. Worldwide, about 73 percent of beach litter is plastic.

From 2015, over 6.9 billion tonnes of plastic waste had been generated. About 79 percent of that total has been accumulated in landfills or environment.

More than 40 percent of plastic is used just once, then tossed.

Plastic straws pose a big threat to marine life, as thousands of marine mammals are killed due to plastic debris and plastic straws. Plastic straws are not biodegradable and can take up to 200 years to degrade.

The Withdraw the Straw campaign follows on from Food Lover’s Market’s Hunger Month campaign in May, which aimed to raise funds to feed vulnerable families through Food Forward SA.