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Next chapter Legal obstacles arise for Neuchâtel straw ban

Biodegradable drinking straws on show

The idea is to replace plastic drinking straws with biodegradable ones 


The city of Neuchâtel wants to be the first place in Switzerland to ban plastic straws, tapping into a growing global movement. But the canton says it has no legal basis to do so.

On May 18, Neuchâtel said it was planning to be the first Swiss city to take measures to ban plastic straws in public establishments, a move that it hoped would come into force from January 1, 2019.

But there are obstacles. A legal opinion has found that the city cannot go it alone on the issue, Neuchâtel cantonal government member Laurent Favre said on Tuesday. Such a decision has to be taken on a federal level, he said in an interview with Swiss public television RTS.external link

No nationwide ban

Switzerland currently has no plans to ban plastic straws on a national level. The Federal Council, Switzerland’s governing body, said on June 4 that it would not follow the planned European Union-wide banexternal link on disposable plastic that was announced at the end of May. It favours solutions developed by the business sector.

The city of Neuchâtel denies that it has acted too hastily, but also admits that it has not yet found a solution to the legal problem. Neuchâtel city politician Violaine Blétry-de Montmollin told RTSexternal link on Wednesday that the important thing was that the proposal had backing from many the catering industry and that it had launched a debate.

The city has already launched an awareness campaign to give restaurants time to prepare for the change. Local restaurants, many of which support the move, can already order a set of 400 biodegradable straws 

Global movement

There is a global movement to ban the use of plastic straws. Several cities in the United States have already done so and the United Kingdom government has announced its intention to ban plastic straws, cotton buds and other single use plastics from as early as next year.

Many countries have already banned, limited or taxed the use of plastic bags. Switzerland’s main supermarkets make a small charge for plastic bags, which has resulted in a steep drop in demand.


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