Beau Rivage Resort & Casino and its parent company are joining the flood of U.S. companies pledging to stop using plastic drinking draws because of the environmental harm they cause to oceans and marine life.
MGM Resorts International announced Monday its U.S. restaurants will only provide single-use plastic straws upon request on casino floors and in bars, lounges, buffets and other dining outlets.
By not offering straws, MGM hopes to eventually keep more than 250,000 straws a day — or more than 100 million straws a year — out of landfills and waterways, Senior Vice President and chief Sustainability Officer Cindy Ortega said in a news release.
"MGM is one of the largest multi-concept restaurant operators in the world," Ortega said.
"As such, it is our responsibility to do our part to help eliminate debris from landfills and waterways. The elimination of plastic straws is the latest addition to MGM's comprehensive environmental responsibility program and can further enhance our efforts to protect our planet."
MGM announced the decision Monday, the same day Starbucks announced it will be phasing out plastic straws from its more than 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020.
A week earlier, Seattle became the first major U.S. city to ban plastic straws to reduce waste and prevent marine pollution.
"The no-straw movement gained mainstream traction three years ago after a video showing a sea turtle with a plastic straw wedged in its nose went viral," the Washington Post reported. "Plastic straws never completely decompose and can be harmful, even fatal, to animals that ingest them."
More than 500 million straws are used every day in the U.S., according to get-green-now.com. Plastic straws in 2017 were the 11th most-found ocean trash.
Starting in May, MGM stopped offering straws at its Las Vegas casinos as part of a "pilot program."
"The response from customers has been so positive we have decided to quickly train our employees at all our U.S. resorts to stop automatically serving single use straws," said Timothy Ryan, MGM's vice president of food and beverage strategy, in the release.
MGM owns 19 resorts across the country. Three are on major waterways: Beau Rivage on the Mississippi Sound, The Borgata in New Jersey and the National Harbor in Maryland.
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