Starbucks Pledges to Not Suck on Cheddar

James Marshall
July 11, 2018

Ditching plastic straws is a positive move for the company, but it is clear they still have a ways to go on removing plastic cups and lids from their repertoire.

The announcement comes a week after Seattle, where the coffee house is headquartered, became one of the first high-profile cities in the U.S.to ban straws.

Starbucks is the biggest company to make the environmentally friendly move and it's expected that more companies will follow its lead and offer their own eco-friendly alternatives to plastic straws.

Starbucks will begin its transition into this change starting in the fall, with stores in Seattle, Vancouver, and Canada releasing the raised lid cups instead of using plastic straws. Starbucks announced Monday it is also doing away with all plastic straws by 2020.

It is as if the recycling of plastic never had a chance as a viable method for reducing the amount of plastic entering landfills or being returned to the natural environment, often in the form of microplastics that find their way to ocean beds to choke out marine life.

Starbucks says customers will first notice the change in its Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia-based stores before "phased rollouts" across the rest of the US and Canada. McDonald's is also actively working on eliminating plastic straws and is now testing alternative straws in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where a ban on plastic straws will go into effect next year.

"Plastic straws that end up in our oceans have a devastating effect on species", said Erin Simon, director of sustainability research & development and material science at World Wildlife Fund, US, in a statement. At the time, Starbucks wavered on the proposal; a company spokesperson told Mic that Starbucks would be developing a "recyclable and compostable cup solution", but wouldn't reveal specifically its plans for straws.

But many consumers have criticised use of a plastic sipping lid as the replacement for straws.

Replacing plastic straws with plastic lids is a step in the right direction: Straws are often hard to recycle and are prevalent in litter on land and in waterways, Jeffery Morris, economist and owner of Sound Resource Management Group, said in a phone interview.

A number of local governments have recently passed legislation restricting the use and distribution of plastic straws. "We hope others will follow in [Starbucks'] footsteps". "With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we can not afford to let industry sit on the sidelines".

"With 8 million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we can not afford to let industry sit on the sidelines, and we are grateful for Starbucks leadership in this space", Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancys Trash Free Seas program, said in the release.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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