Starbucks plans to eliminate plastic straws from its stores by 2020

By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer
July 11, 2018, 10:36:26 AM EDT

The Starbucks Company will eliminate single-use plastic straws from its more than 28,000 company operated and licensed stores by 2020.

Plastic straws will be replaced with new recyclable strawless lid and alternative-material straw options, the coffee chain announced on Monday, July 9.

Starbucks is the largest food and beverage retailer to make such a global commitment. The company anticipates the move will eliminate over one billion plastic straws per year from Starbucks stores, according to the announcement.

starbucks straw

Strawless lid (Photos/Starbucks)

Cold drinks now account for 50 percent of all Starbucks beverage sales in the United States, up from 37 percent just five years ago.

Starbucks has designed, developed and manufactured a strawless lid, which will become the standard for all iced coffee, tea and espresso beverages.

The lid is currently available in more than 8,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada for select beverages, such as Starbucks Draft Nitro and Cold Foam.

In addition, Starbucks will begin offering straws made from alternative materials, such as paper or compostable material. They will be available by request for customers who prefer or need a straw.

“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,” Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer for Starbucks, said.

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The announcement comes a week after its hometown of Seattle banned plastic drinking straws and utensils. The company already offers alternative straws in Seattle.

Customers in Seattle and Vancouver will be the first to see the strawless lids implemented, starting this fall, with phased rollouts within the U.S. and Canada. A global rollout of the strawless lid will follow, beginning in Europe.

“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,” said Erin Simon, director of sustainability research & development and material science at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), U.S.

Plastic straws that end up in our oceans have a devastating effect on species. WWF hopes others will follow in Starbucks' footsteps, Simon said.

Starbucks' decision is a shining example of the important role that companies can play in reducing plastic in the ocean, Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program, said in the announcement.

“With 8 million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we cannot afford to let industry sit on the sidelines, and we are grateful for Starbucks' leadership in this space,” Mallos said.

Plastic straw 5-23-2018

Citing the growing problem of plastic pollution, New York City Council Member Rafael Espinal introduced a bill on Wednesday, May 23, that would ban the use of plastic straws and stirrers in New York City bars, restaurants and coffee shops. (AP Photo/Barbara Woike)

The movement to eliminate plastic straws has been gaining tremendous momentum around the globe, as consumers show increased concern for the greater issue of plastic waste.

Other companies have also showed participation in the movement away from plastic straws.

McDonald’s voted down a proposal requesting a report on plastic straws in May.

However, the burger chain said in June that it will switch to paper straws at all its locations in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It will also test an alternative to plastic ones in some of its U.S. restaurants later this year.

MGM Resorts International announced their new program, "That's The Last Straw," in a statement on Monday, July 9.

The program aims to reduce single-use plastic straws at their company-operated restaurants in the U.S. The initiative will eventually remove more than 250,000 straws a day from landfills and waterways, according to the tweet.

New York City Council Member Rafael Espinal introduced a bill on Wednesday, May 23, that would ban the use of plastic straws and stirrers in New York City bars, restaurants and coffee shops, as an effort to reduce the growing problem of plastic pollution.

Other cities, like Fort Myers Beach in Florida, have banned plastic straws. Similar proposals are being considered in places like San Francisco.

The anti-plastic straw movement gained traction after a viral video in 2015 showed rescuers removing a plastic straw from a sea turtle's nose.

Americans are estimated to use more than 500 million single-use plastic straws per day in the U.S. alone, an average rate of 1.6 straws per person per day, according to the National Park Service. That translates into 175 billion straws a year.

Of the 8 million tons of plastic trash that flow every year into the world’s oceans, the plastic drinking straw is not a top contributor to all that tonnage.

The top five biggest sources of single-use plastic are plastic bags, water bottles, to-go containers, to-go cups and straws, according to the advocacy group 5 Gyres.

There are a number of steps that you can take to help reduce the amount of plastic pollution in the ocean.

starbucks straws infogram

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