Starbucks has had its last straw

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Starbucks has had its last straw

By Louisa Hallett - 07/09/2018
The coffee shop giant has big plans for fulfilling its $10 million commitment to developing a fully recyclable and compostable global cup solution.

Starbucks Coffee Company is making a big move toward sustainability.

The coffee shop giant has big plans for fulfilling its $10 million commitment to developing a fully recyclable and compostable global cup solution. Starbucks believes it starts by simply eliminating the use of the single-use plastic straw by the year 2020. This comes after a recent ban on plastic straws and utensils in the company's hometown of Seattle, as well as in other cities, such as Fort Myers, Fla.

“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, U.S. “Plastic straws that end up in our oceans have a devastating effect on species. As we partner with Starbucks in waste reduction initiatives such as Next Gen Consortium Cup Challenge and WWF’s Cascading Materials Vision, we hope others will follow in their footsteps.”

Although the movement to ban plastic straws has been slow, this new environmentally friendly movement has caught on through recent viral videos, such as the YouTube video of an environmental researcher pulling a plastic straw out of a sea turtle's nose. Local governments are beginning to recognize consumer demand in eliminating the use of plastic straws and have taken initiative in banning or limiting the use of them in restaurants.

However, Starbucks is now one of a few companies that is actively seeking ocean-friendlier alternatives. To start, the company has recently introduced the strawless lid. This lid is now available in over 8,000 stores and is supposedly going to become standard for all iced coffee, tea, and espresso beverages. These cold beverages account for 50 percent more of Starbucks U.S. beverage sales, which increased from 37 percent within the last five years.

“Starbucks decision to phase out single-use plastic straws is a shining example of the important role that companies can play in stemming the tide of ocean plastic. With eight 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,” said Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program.

Strawless lids will begin to appear as standard in Seattle and Vancouver Starbucks this fall, with phased rollouts within the U.S. and Canada to follow within the next year. A global rollout of the strawless lids will follow, beginning in Europe where they will be used in select stores in France and the Netherlands, as well as in the United Kingdom.

Starbucks has over 28,000 stores all over the world and over 238,000 employees worldwide.