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Starbucks to Ban Plastic Straws Across Its 28,000 Stores

The coffee retailer aims to fully eliminate the plastic items from its stores worldwide by 2020

Photo by Omar Lopez/Unsplash

Starbucks will be phasing out single-use straws from its 28,000 locations, aiming to fully eliminate the plastic items from its stores worldwide by 2020. If Starbucks indeed commits to such a pronouncement, about one billion straws will be deducted from the world’s total number of plastic straws used every year.

The industry giant will instead be using specialized plastic lids that don’t require the use of a plastic straw or for which only non-plastic straws can be used. The decision comes after growing pressure from customers, partners, and organizations that have been vying for more eco-conscious food and drink packaging.

Other prominent names in the food industry that have issued a ban on single-use plastic straws include McDonald’s.

Starbucks’ decision also coincides with last week’s announcement that Seattle—the home of Starbucks’ headquarters—will be banning single-use plastic straws in all its bars and restaurants.

“We quickly saw the implications that this would have in our ability to reduce straw usage. We saw this lid as a way to get out of the conversation about what kind of plastic straw is good or bad, and to turn it toward reducing straw usage from the very beginning,” said Colleen Chapman, vice-president of Starbucks’ global social impact in a statement.

“Not using a straw is the best thing we can do for the environment,” she adds.

The move has been lauded by organizations such as the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas, pointing out that the coffee retailer’s plastic ban is a “shining example” of the impact of corporations on the growing problem of plastic pollution.

Customer feedback has been slightly polarized. While some people were quick to praise Starbucks’ plastic ban, there were also customers who criticized its proposed alternative.

Why ban plastic straws only to replace them with plastic lids? So goes the general complaint. Others have also pointed out that there are some disabled people who rely on straws. Starbucks has since responded to such criticisms:

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