Starbucks is Ditching Plastic Straws, Citing Threat to Oceans

Starbucks is to ban plastic straws from all of of its stores by 2020, amounting to the elimination of more than one billion plastic straws each year. Its beverages will feature recyclable lids featuring a raised lip, like those pictured here. This special lid, likened by some (curmudgeons?) to an adult sippy cup, is already available at more than 8,000 stores in Canada and the U.S. For thick blended beverages like the Frappuccino, paper or compostable straws will be distributed to any patrons who need them (but hopefully you have your own stainless, glass, or pasta straw in hand, ready to go).

Starbucks said the new strawless lids will first be implemented in Seattle and Vancouver in the third quarter of this year.

Starbucks plans to eliminate plastic straws globally by 2020. In March, for example, the company announced a $10 million challenge to design a disposable coffee cup that is compostable. Oakland and Berkeley, California, and other cities have also banned the use of disposable straws.

While straws have become a high-profile issue, they make up only about 4% of the plastic trash by number of pieces, and far less by weight. McDonald's said earlier this year that it would stop using plastic straws at all of its stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland. And straws contribute only 2,000 tons to the nearly nine million tons of plastic waste that wind up in the water annually, according to the Associated Press.

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"Plastic straws that end up in our oceans have a devastating effect on species", said Erin Simon, director of sustainability research & development and material science at World Wildlife Fund, US, in a statement.

Starting Tuesday July 10, Starbucks will also add two new permanent additions to its cold coffee menu in the USA and Canada: Salted Cream Cold Foam Cold Brew, featuring a strawless lid; and Iced Vanilla Bean Coconutmilk Latte, which consists of vanilla bean and coconutmilk shaken with ice, with shots of Starbucks signature espresso poured on top.

This follows an announcement by McDonald's that it would switch to paper straws in the United Kingdom and Ireland by next year, and test alternatives to plastic straws in some USA locations.

"With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we can not afford to let industry sit on the sidelines, and we are grateful for Starbucks leadership in this space".

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