Adam Smith Institute, London | Week 4 – The last straw

Camille Cross

The end of this week marks my halfway point and I can’t believe how quickly this time has gone. It started off with myself, Cian and Nick meeting Hannah Berdal. She was a Mannkal scholar who went to the Lion Rock Institute a few years ago and is now working at Latham & Watkins. Hannah was a great person to talk to as she’s already done so much and has great advice about entering the workforce for the first time and how to go about it.

We also spent most of our Sunday up in Cambridge meeting with Joseph, Ron’s sisters grandson, who is about to embark on a PhD focusing on literature. We had a great time talking about the history of one of the oldest university’s in the UK and the world.

This week, my main focus was the recent proposal of a plastic straw ban in the UK. This makes me think of Australia’s future in a few years after the new plastic bag ban mimicked British ban introduced in 2012. This new ban has many effects and there is actually evidence that this will hurt the environment further.

The majority (52%) of the waste found in the Great Pacific garbage trap is commercial waste and consists of fishing nets, lines and ropes. It is not the single-use plastic bags from Australia or the plastic straws from the UK. The rubbish found in the ocean has been traced back to 10 separate rivers all of which are in Asia or Africa and have millions of people living among them.

There are alternatives for plastic straws including paper and PLA straws. People often complain about paper straws because they can break down mid drink – this may actually cause people to drink faster! They are also more environmentally harmful to produce than plastic straws, posing the question; are we helping or hurting the environment by switching? PLA straws are similar to plastic but are meant to biodegrade quicker, and they do, too quickly in fact. PLA straws actually need insulating blankets during shipping to prevent them breaking down before use!

The ASI’s sister think tank, The Entrepreneurs Network (TEN), held an event in the House of Lords this week to launch two reports they have been working on, Women in Entrepreneurship and Tax Reform. This was a great event to go to because there were networking opportunities and I was able to get a greater understanding of the difficulties faced by entrepreneurs.

I can’t wait for next week to see what it will bring!