Starbucks will globally phase out the use of plastic drinking straws by the end of next year, the corporation announced on July 9.

The common green single-use straws will no longer be offered at Starbucks locations as soon as this autumn in North America. Instead, store locations will offer plastic versions of their hot drink lids. This change will be implemented in the UK by early next year, meeting the deadline for implementation of the world’s first national ban on plastic items.

Starbucks is not the first company to trend away from plastic drinking straws in America. Food service provider Bon Appetite and Alaska Airlines also have eliminated straws, in response to growing public interest in reducing single-use plastic waste.

The original Starbucks location in downtown Seattle.

On July 1, Seattle became the first major U.S. city to ban plastic straws and utensils in restaurants. Violations of this ban could be fined up to $250 in the Washington state metropolis, where Starbucks has their original location and corporate headquarters.

New York City and several other cities are in the process of similar legislative proposals.

Seattle has been responsive to environmental concerns addressing plastic and non-recyclable waste. In 2009, foam products were banned, and the following year a restriction on non-compostable and non-recyclable food packaging went into effect.

U.S. consumers use an estimated 500 million plastic straws every day, according to Eco-Cycle, a recycling nonprofit. In the Ocean Conservancy’s Coastal Cleanup Report of 2017, straws and stir sticks only accounted for three percent of trash items found on the beaches. However, they have been the representative focus of non-recyclable items which are used once, disposed of, and which take many years to biodegrade.

“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,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a statement released by the corporation, announcing the new policy.

Disposable drinking cups at Starbucks locations. Photo by Sam Howzit.

Starbucks has previously pledged $10 million to the development of new fully recyclable and compostable hot cup, as part of the NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge. However, consumer trends show that the popularity of cold beverages has increased to more than 50 percent of the beverage mix served at Starbucks.

Also funding research for the development of new, environmentally-friendly goods is the McDonalds corporation.

As the largest plastic straw buyer in the world, the fast-food chain has already begun to use paper straws in 1300 store locations in the U.K. and Ireland.

And as of this July, they must do the same in Seattle. Concerned consumers who prefer something more durable than paper can purchase metal straws from another expanding Seattle enterprise – Amazon.

 

McDonald’s Quits Using Plastic Straws in UK and Ireland, US and Other Countries May Follow