People with disabilities concerned about Seattle's ban on plastic straws

James Marshall
July 16, 2018

Coffee fans have nothing to worry about: the new lids are as easy and comfortable as the old straws.

With our present population faced with an increasing need to clean up our oceans from oil spills, landfill overflows and endless plastics, it was only a matter of time before a major chain stepped up and announced that they would make a change for the future of the environment. Caffeine fiends are ready for the change.

Cities and companies are banning plastic straws across the United States and overseas, but disability rights advocates are pushing back. Other vendors, such as Starbucks, Subway, and Santorini Greek Island Grill, have already phased out the selling of plastic bottles. "From what we understand, it will be a phased process while Starbucks builds up inventory of their exclusive Strawless Lids...[W] e immediately reached out to our regional manager to request early participation".

That's when everybody started calling these cups, adult sippy cups. "By nature, the straw isn't recyclable and the lid is, so we feel this decision is more sustainable and more socially responsible", said Chris Milne, director of packaging sourcing for Starbucks.

For UCSD University Centers, the elimination of plastic straws and other environmentally-harmful products is not a new idea.

The London Plane, a Seattle restaurant, started using compostable plastic straws before the ban, which may be an ideal compromise.

Paper? It dissolves, or you can bite through them. Ladau is primarily affected in her lower body, so she does not rely on straws, but opts for them because it can be hard to maneuver in a wheelchair and drink at the same time.

And what will the effect be? The decision is expected to eliminate more than 1 billion straws from the company's 28,000 stores annually.

When asked about what steps they would take to accommodate disabled patrons, Starbucks said in an email, "Customers are still able to get a straw - made from alternative materials - and we will work with the disability community to ensure we continue to meet their needs going forward".

According to a report by Swiss non-profit World Economic Forum, by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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