Starbucks announces plan to eliminate plastic straws by 2020

Starbucks unveils environment-friendly lid for cold drinks which puts straws on shelf

To replace the straws, Starbucks also debuted images of its new strawless lids, which will begin to appear in Seattle and Vancouver locations this fall, with phased rollouts within the US and Canada to follow next year.

Instead, its beverages will be capped with strawless lids - reminiscent of an "adult sippy cup" - or served with straws made from alternative materials "including paper or compostable plastic", according to a statement.

For the beverages that customers might still want a straw-like Frappuccinos- Starbucks will begin offering straws made from alternative materials like paper and compostable plastic by request. As Fast Company reported, plastic straws have been banned or are planned to be banned by Alaska Airlines and McDonald's U.K., as well as in Vancouver, the U.K., Taiwan, Seattle, Miami Beach, and in California cities such as Oakland and Berkeley, to name a few.

Plastic straws represent a comparatively small amount of all plastic waste, Reuters says, but they are more hard to recycle than other plastic items. 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.

On July 9, Starbucks announced its plans to phase out the use of plastic straws in its stores by 2020. Straws are lower-hanging fruit in the battle against plastic, but hopefully it provides the motivation Starbucks needs to keep fighting in all the ways that count.

Considered the most eco-friendly option because of how long they can last, these re-usable straws come in aluminum, stainless steel and titanium and are rustproof.

Other cities, like Fort Meyers, have banned plastic straws as well. Straws add up to about 2,000 tons of the almost 9 million tons of plastic waste that ends up in waters around the globe each year.

In order to render plastic straws needless, Starbucks will be transitioning from the regular flat plastic lids to a new kind of lid with a raised lip to drink from, the company shared in a news release.

Replacing plastic straws with plastic lids is a step in the right direction: Straws are often hard to recycle and are prevalent in litter on land and in waterways, Jeffery Morris, economist and owner of Sound Resource Management Group, said in a phone interview.

Actor and environmentalist Adrian Grenier, who is also a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program, retweeted his support of the coffee chain's big announcement today.

"Starbucks is finally drawing a line in the sand and creating a mould for other large brands to follow", said Chris Milne, director of packaging sourcing.

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