The coffee giant says it will offer a recyclable strawless lid and straws made from alternative materials going forward.
Going green isn’t such a tall order.
Starbucks announced Monday that it would rid company stores of single-use plastic straws by 2020 and provide sustainable alternatives. The global commitment will eliminate more than one billion plastic straws a year from its stores, the java giant projected, in a push to reduce waste and preserve the environment.
“For our partners and customers, this is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways,” president and CEO Kevin Johnson said in a news release.
The coffee company plans to offer a newly designed recyclable strawless lid at its 28,000 company operated and licensed locations, as well as straws made from alternative materials like compostable plastic and paper for customers who need or want a straw. The strawless lid rollout will hit Seattle and Vancouver first, starting this fall, followed by “phased rollouts” in the U.S. and Canada during fiscal year 2019 and a global rollout beginning in Europe.
Americans use about 175 million straws every day, according to an estimate by Technomics. The campaign to reduce the use of straws gained steam in 2015 with a graphic viral video showing scientists pulling a plastic straw from a sea turtle’s nostril.
But plastic straws make up a relatively small proportion of overall ocean debris: Data from California’s coastal cleanup day, for example, shows that straws account for just 4% of waste. And straws contribute only 2,000 tons to the almost nine million tons of plastic waste that wind up in the water annually, according to the Associated Press. Disabled people who rely on straws, meanwhile, have urged policymakers to consider their needs in the conversation.
Still, the war on plastic straws rages on. Seattle, where Starbucks is headquartered, implemented a ban on single-use plastic straws and utensils last week; Fort Myers Beach, Fla., has also ditched straws, while New York and San Francisco are considering similar proposals. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May also introduced a plan in April to ban the sale of plastic straws.
“Starbucks’ goal to eliminate plastic straws by 2020 from their stores globally represents the company’s forward thinking in tackling the material waste challenge in totality,” Erin Simon, director of sustainability research & development and material science at World Wildlife Fund, U.S., said in a statement. “Plastic straws that end up in our oceans have a devastating effect on species.”
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