I was just at Disneyland this past weekend, where the temperature hovered around 100 degrees. That is a very fast way to get a very real sense of exactly how wasteful single-use plastic straws are, as you see tens of thousands of people slurp down sodas and iced coffees then toss them in the trash.
To help combat this waste, Starbucks announced today that it is eliminating single-use plastic straws from its more than 28,000 locations by 2020. According to the press announcement, this will remove more than one billion plastic straws per year from Starbucks stores.
Replacing the straws will be a new strawless lid for all iced coffee, tea and espresso beverages. Basically, Starbucks is building an adult sippy cup. These strawless lids are already available in 8,000 stores across the U.S. and Canada. Straws aren’t completely dead, however, as the company will make compostable plastic and paper ones available for people who request them.
This move by Starbucks could push the growing wave of anti-straw sentiment more into the mainstream as our oceans and environment pile up with plastic junk. The European Union has proposed a ban on single-use plastic items including straws, while Scotland and the United Kingdom have each launched plans to ban plastic straws. Here in the U.S., Seattle (home to Starbucks) became the first major American city to ban single-use plastic straws starting the first of this month.
According to the Washington Post, Starbucks is the largest retailer to commit to eliminating straws. And while there, I saw that Disneyland Starbucks locations were already using the new strawless lids. Hopefully other food retailers at the park will make the same commitment to make the “happiest place on Earth” a little less wasteful.