Starbucks to Scrap Plastic Straws

By: - July 10, 2018 12:00 am

A cold coffee drink at Starbucks. The company plans to end its use of plastic straws by 2020. Mark Lennihan/AP

Bowing to pressure from environmentalists and demands from its customers, Starbucks plans to eliminate plastic straws at its more than 28,000 company-operated stores by 2020, replacing them with a sippy lid or nonplastic straw options.

The lid is currently available in more than 8,000 stores in the United States and Canada for certain beverages, the company said in a press release. Customers in Seattle and Vancouver will be the first to see the lids implemented widely, starting this fall. Seattle, where Starbucks is headquartered, implemented a ban on plastic straws, utensils and cocktail picks July 1.

“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,” said Kevin Johnson, president and CEO of Starbucks.

Cities, states and other companies are facing pressure from environmentalists to ditch plastic straws, which contribute to pollution and harm marine life. But objections from the plastics industry, restaurants and disability advocates have derailed or delayed some proposed straw bans.

McDonald’s already has eliminated plastic straws in the United Kingdom, but it has resisted efforts to do so in the United States. Shareholders voted down a proposal that would have called on the company to phase out the plastic straws.

Three states — California, Hawaii and New York — have considered plastic straw legislation in 2018. New York City also is considering a ban.

Seattle, Miami Beach, Oakland and more than a dozen other cities, about half of them in California, have either banned plastic straws or required customers who want a straw to ask for it. The move to ban plastic straws was accelerated by a viral video of scientists removing a straw from a sea turtle’s nostril.

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Elaine S. Povich
Elaine S. Povich

Elaine S. Povich covers consumer affairs for Stateline. Povich has reported for Newsday, the Chicago Tribune and United Press International.