Starbucks vows to ditch straws by 2020

The coffee chain’s announcement follows Seattle banning single-use plastic straws and utensils. It’s the first major company to eliminate the straws from locations worldwide.

Starbucks is going strawless in an effort to be more environmentally friendly.

On Monday, the coffee chain announced that it will phase out single-use plastic straws from all 28,000 locations around the world by 2020.

The move, which Starbucks says will eliminate more than one billion plastic straws each year, will begin in Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, before rolling out to stores across the rest of the United States and Canada.

Starbucks’ announcement comes on the heels of a citywide ban on straws, as well. On July 1, Seattle became the first major U.S. city to ban single-use plastic straws and utensils.

The Washington Post reported:

A decade ago, the city adopted an ordinance requiring that all one-time-use food-service items be compostable or recyclable, according to the Seattle Times. But straws and other utensils were exempted from that law because there were not many good alternatives.

CBS News reported:

… The eco-conscious city has been an environmental leader in the U.S., working to aggressively curb the amount of trash that goes into landfills by requiring more options that can be recycled or composted.

The city’s 5,000 restaurants will now have to use reusable or compostable utensils, straws and cocktail picks, though the city is encouraging businesses to consider not providing straws altogether or switch to paper rather than compostable plastic straws.

… Proposals to ban plastic straws are being considered in other cities, including New York and San Francisco.

Starbucks is replacing plastic straws with new lids, as well as straws made from “alternative materials.”

In a press release, Starbucks wrote:

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 including Starbucks Draft Nitro and Cold Foam. The lid is also being piloted for Nitro beverages in additional markets including China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. In addition, Starbucks will begin offering straws made from alternative materials – including paper or compostable plastic – for Frappuccino® blended beverages, and 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,” said Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer for Starbucks.

“The new designs have drawn comparisons to an adult ‘sippy cup,'” CNN Money reported.

The announcement also follows the coffee chain’s promise to find a sustainable alternative to its cups, which contain plastic.

The Seattle Times reported:

Earlier this year, Starbucks committed $10 million over three years to help find an alternative to its ubiquitous hot beverage cups — its third such attempt in a decade — which are complicated to recycle because of their plastic liner.

Phasing out plastic straws is one move of many that Starbucks is making to boost sustainability efforts. In June, the company’s chief executive, Kevin Johnson, listed several other plans in the works:

  • Achieving 99 percent ethically-sourced coffee
  • Trialing a 5p paper cup charge in London, which will be expanded to 950 stores in the UK later this month, to promote reusability
  • Offering a discount to any customer who brings a reusable cup or tumbler to company-owned stores around the world
  • Doubling by 2022 the 10% post-consumer fiber content of the Starbucks cup, first introduced in 2006
  • Building more than 1,500 LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified stores in 20 markets, including all 50 states and Puerto Rico
  • Increasing purchases of Renewable Energy Certificates, currently covering 62% of our electricity usage globally, with a goal of reaching 100% globally by 2020
  • Expansion of the FoodShare program that donates unsold food to food banks around the country

Starbucks isn’t the first organization to remove plastic straws, either—but its announcement marks the first plan to remove the items in all of its locations.

In June, McDonald’s announced that it was ditching plastic straws at certain locations in Europe, vowing to remove them from all its restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland by the end of 2019.

Reuters reported:

The McDonald’s decision does not extend to its other global restaurants, however. A proposal to investigate the impact of plastic straws at its 37,000 worldwide restaurants, what would have been a step towards phasing out plastic straws, was shot down by shareholders in May.

Other organizations, such as Royal Caribbean and Alaska Airlines, are also cutting out plastic straws and stirrers.

Environmental organizations are hoping Starbucks’ announcement will spur other organizations to release similar sustainability decisions.

CNN Money reported:

Starbucks said that it is the largest food and beverage retailer to have promised to get rid of plastic straws.

Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program, called Starbucks’ decision a “shining example” of how companies can help fight ocean pollution.

“With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we cannot afford to let industry sit on the sidelines,” he said in a statement.

What do you think of Starbucks’ announcement, PR Daily readers?

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