Coffee giant Starbucks have recently announced that they will be phasing out plastic straws and replacing them with new, eco-friendly lids. Starbucks have described their new lids as “a cleaner, less-ridged version of a hot cup lid”, which will be teardrop-shaped and the size of a thumbnail – although these too are made from plastic, they can be ‘widely recycled’.
Chris Milne, Director of Packaging Sourcing for Starbucks, shares that he believe this is a step in the right direction, and he hopes that other businesses will follow: “By nature, the straw isn’t recyclable but the lid is, so we feel this decision is more sustainable and more socially responsible. 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.”
By removing plastic straws from its 28,000 stores by 2020, Starbucks will eliminate more than one billion straws per year; the movement will start in the US and Canada. Nicholas Mallos, Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program highlights that businesses, such as Starbucks have a responsibility to get involved: “With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we cannot afford to let industries sit on the sidelines.”
Starbucks have reported: “They will become the standard lid for all iced drinks except 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. Last year in Santa Cruz, California, Starbucks started testing out straws made from materials other than traditional plastic. It is now in the middle of testing paper straws in its UK stores.”
Colleen Chapman, Vice President of Starbucks Global Social Impact Overseeing Sustainability support this move, going as far as stating: “Not using a straw is the best thing we can do for the environment.”