Talk about an environmental milestone!
Starbucks has today announced that plastic straws are soon to be out, with recyclable lids in. The global takeaway coffee and iced drinks giant has committed to eliminating all plastic straws from its 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020, in turn helping prevent the more than 1 billion plastic straws its customers use from entering landfill a year.
The recyclable lid that is set to replace the straws is also made of plastic, but its polypropylene content can be widely recycled.
“By nature, the straw isn’t recyclable and the lid is, so we feel this decision is more sustainable and more socially responsible,” said Chris Milne, director of packaging sourcing for Starbucks. “Starbucks is finally drawing a line in the sand and creating a mold for other large brands to follow. We are raising the water line for what’s acceptable and inspiring our peers to follow suit.”
Starbucks' recyclable lid will become standard on most iced drinks, except for their Frappuccino, which will be served with a straw made from paper or PLA compostable plastic manufactured from fermented plant starch or other sustainable material. Customers who prefer or need a straw can request one made of alternative materials for use with any cold drink.
With an estimated eight million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, this is massive commitment from a global company, shining the light for other companies to join the movement in fighting against single-use plastic pollution.
Going plastic straw free is just one of the ways that Starbucks is thinking through more sustainable approaches to single-use packaging. The company has invested $10 million in the NextGen Cup Challenge, which seeks to develop a fully recyclable and compostable hot cup.
Starbucks also encourages customers to bring their own tumbler (BYOT) in an effort to reduce waste, and began selling a $1 reusable cup in the U.S. in 2014. The cups soon became available in Canada and the U.K. as well, and to date more than 18 million have been sold.