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Merlin to remove plastic straws at attractions worldwide by end of 2018

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Merlin Entertainments has announced that it will stop using plastic straws at all of its owned attractions globally by the end of this year.

The initiative follows the active campaigning to reduce plastic waste in the ocean, which has gained traction following David Attenborough’s natural history television series, The Blue Planet.

Major brands including Starbucks and McDonalds have started to move towards using paper straws.

Big name attractions operators have also followed suit with Disney, SeaWorld and PortAventura all announcing action on plastic straws.

Like many of our guests, we are concerned about the negative environmental impact associated with the disposal of plastic straws.

Commenting on the announcement, Nick Varney, Merlin’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We’re committed at Merlin to reduce our impact on the environment wherever we operate. Like many of our guests, we are concerned about the negative environmental impact associated with the disposal of plastic straws and we have an even deeper reason for taking action across our business given our SEA LIFE teams champion these issues on a daily basis. It is something we can act on immediately as we continue to assess how we minimise the use of plastics within our business.”

Plastic waste reduction

The move is part of an overall programme at Merlin to remove plastics from the global business.

Key initiative to date include:

  • removing single-use plastic water bottles from company offices
  • working with the global supply chain to remove unnecessary plastic packaging
    from shops
  • helping staff to understand what they can do to reduced plastic use in their daily loves
  • giving guests and staff the opportunity to get involved with recycling engagement projects

Work towards the end of year target is well underway. Chessington World of Adventures was one of the first attractions in the Merlin group to remove plastic straws completely from its park and hotels before the start of the 2018 peak season. From 1 November this year, all plastic straws and plastic bags
across Merlin’s attractions in Australia and New Zealand were eliminated.


For Merlin, the SEA LIFE brand gives the Group an added perspective on the issue.

Andy Bool, Head of SEA LIFE TRUST, said, “We regularly see the direct impact plastic has on marine life through our own Seal Sanctuary and our wider marine conservation work across the world, so it is excellent to see Merlin taking positive steps towards eliminating unnecessary single use plastic like straws from its business and we welcome their commitment to doing so.”

Merlin’s 51 SEA LIFE Centres worldwide have joined over 200 other aquariums, oceanographic museums and zoos to try to raise public awareness about plastic pollution with the #BeatPlasticsPollution campaign.

Merlin also actively supports its adopted charity, the SEA LIFE TRUST, in campaigning for greater
protection over our marine environment and its creatures.

The Trust is creating the first beluga whale sanctuary for two animals Merlin acquired with the take over of Changfeng Ocean World in 2012.

In an interview with Blooloop, Bool explains that the sanctuary was created because “Merlin has a long-held belief that we can’t care for these highly complex, social, intelligent creatures in an aquarium environment.”

James Burleigh, SEA LIFE’s Chief Ambassador, adds, “The whole premise around acquiring an attraction with any kind of cetacean has always been that these animals are not for exploitation and entertainment shows: these animals need to be homed to somewhere more appropriate.”

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Rachel Reed

Rachel Read

Rachel is Finance Director. She has a degree in engineering from Cambridge University and qualified as a Chartered Accountant at Deloittes in London. She worked in finance in industry for twenty years. She oversees our news and also manages our events.

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