According to the National Park Service, Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day – this small but plentiful waste adds up and is one of the most common items found on beaches. Now, one beverage icon is joining a handful of brands in the fight against single use straws, with plans to phase out the item from its stores by 2020.
Based on this ambitious goal, Starbucks hopes to eliminate one billion straws a year from its 28,000 stores worldwide. As an alternative, the company has designed a straw-less lid made of a recyclable plastic that, unlike lightweight, single use straws, can easily be captured in the recycling process. The lid will be introduced to Seattle and Vancouver consumers this fall with pilots in other global stores starting in 2019. Other options being considered include paper or compostable straws that can be used for cold drinks. As an industry leader, Starbucks has the influence to persuade other brands to reconsider their approach to packaging and plastic waste. Nicholas Mallos, Director of the Trash Free Seas Program at Ocean Conservancy applauds the company saying, “Starbucks’ decision to phase out single-use plastic straws is a shining example of the important role that companies can play in stemming the tide of ocean plastic. With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we cannot afford to let industry sit on the sidelines, and we are grateful for Starbucks’ leadership in this space.” This isn’t the coffee giant’s first attempt at combatting packaging waste. Earlier this year, the company announced plans to develop a recyclable and compostable cup, dedicating $10 million to the initiative.
Although not the first, Starbucks is one of the largest businesses to eliminate the item which is so integral to the company’s business and brand. Combined with the innovation of leading brands like Starbucks, strategic partnerships, conservationists’ efforts and city initiatives, brands from all industries looking to curb their environmental impact will have the incentive and resources to reevaluate and redesign their packaging – creating sustainable options for conscious consumers who continue to demand that companies operate in a way that benefits society and the environment.