Plastics are widely used materials valued for being lightweight, durable and affordable. While about 300 million tonnes of the material are produced each year, there is a growing concern for its effect on oceans and marine life as every marine mammal is reported to contain microplastics as of today.

Members of the Student Committee for EMS (ISO-based environment management system) at Chiba University conducted a survey on single-use plastics so as to raise awareness among students and the faculty on this important issue.

※Posters for survey on single-use plastics awareness 

The survey was held in four-day period in July 2019 at university campus. The terms of the survey stipulated “temporary non-use of plastic straws”, “charging five yen per paper straw” and “sales data and questionnaire based analysis”.

While 251 of 500ml beverage cartons were purchased in the survey period, 129 persons (51.4 percent) chose to buy a paper straw. Still, there was a decrease in the use of drink straws as 48.6 percent of buyers decided not to use one.

Considering there were people buying paper straws out of curiosity, a further decrease in the use of drink straws is expected.

When asked how they liked paper straws, 32 percent of the respondents pointed out as “easy to use” and 37 percent found as “difficult to use”.

Regarding the prospect of replacing plastic straws with paper ones, the respondents’ answers were as follows: 21 percent said “very good”, 19 percent “approve”, 35 percent “disapprove”, and 25 percent “completely disagree”.

Survey organizers used social media, posters and press release to spread the word about the critical issue of plastic use reduction.