Starbucks says goodbye to single-use straws

Photo courtesy of Starbucks

Recently we have seen large companies respond to the pressure of consumers and worsening environmental concerns to reduce the amount of plastic waste they produce. Starbucks announced on Monday July 9th that they would be joining the last straw movement by eliminating single-use straws in more than 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020.

By phasing out plastic straws, Starbucks will reduce the total number used each year by 1 billion. This will make Starbucks the largest food and drink company to commit completely to eliminate plastic straws. Other big-name food and drink companies responding to customers and environmentalists to reduce waste are Hyatt Hotels, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks recently said, “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.”

Going strawless is just one of Starbucks’ many initiatives to reduce their environmental footprint and fight climate change. In 2014, Starbucks began selling their reusable cup in Canada, the United States and the U.K. Today, more than 18 million cups have been sold.

The company has also joined forces with Closed Loop Partners, a group that invests in sustainable goods and advanced recycling technology, to create the NextGen Cup Challenge. The coffee-giant has invested $10 million into the challenge which seeks to encourage innovative entrepreneurs to develop a more earth-friendly coffee cup.

The company has already begun phasing out straws by replacing them with what some are calling the “adult sippy cup”. Designed by Emily Alexander, an engineer in Global Research and Development at Starbucks, the lid is already being used in approximately 8,000 locations across Canada and the U.S.

In a recent press release, Chris Milne, director of packaging sourcing for Starbucks said, “By nature, the straw isn’t recyclable and 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 all too aware of the fact that plastic straws never completely decompose and of the harmful consequences that ensue. They pollute oceans and endanger marine life to such a point that, if digested, can be fatal.

More than a dozen of Ottawa’s own restaurants and bars have also said goodbye to plastic straws in the recent ‘Last Straw Ottawa’ movement. Whether it be local restaurants or coffee conglomerates, others must continue to follow in the footsteps of companies committed to going strawless.