Starbucks, citing environment, is ditching plastic straws

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Starbucks is making a massive effort to eliminate single-use plastic straws.

The coffee giant has announced it will eliminate all plastic straws from its 28,000 global stores, saving an estimated one billion straws each year.

Starbucks' new iced coffee and tea beverages are displayed during a promotion July 2, 2003 outside a Starbucks coffee shop at Dupont Circle in Washington, DC.

Some Starbucks drinks, like cold brew with cold foam, are already served in cups with strawless lids.

The strawless lid, which features a raised lip, is already available in more than 8,000 stores in the USA and Canada for select beverages. A larger-scale rollout will begin in North America this fall and in Europe and the United Kingdom next year.

"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. Customers who prefer a straw with their drink can ask for one. According to Give A Sip, a campaign started by Wildlife Conservation Society to educate the public about the harmful effects of plastic straws, "At the rate we're polluting, there will be more plastic in the ocean by weight than fish by 2050".

Cutting back on single-use plastic, like plastic straws, utensils and bags, is necessary to curb the overwhelming ocean pollution that threatens marine life. It will also adopt specially designed paper cup lids for cold drinks so customers do not need to use straws. At the time, Starbucks wavered on the proposal; a company spokesperson told Mic that Starbucks would be developing a "recyclable and compostable cup solution", but wouldn't reveal specifically its plans for straws. Non-profit environmental group For A Strawless Ocean advocated for the use of Aardvark biodegradable straws, which are said to decompose in 45-90 days.

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

Other cities, including Fort Myers Beach, Fla., have banned plastic straws, and similar proposals are being considered in NY and San Francisco. Kimberly Murphy, president of Berks Nature, a nonprofit conservation organization based in Reading, said 500 million straws are used every day in the USA, and they are often not recycled. The business also urges customers to bring their own tumbler from home to reduce waste.