The last straw? Starbucks pledges to eliminate plastic straws globally by 2020

Pablo Tucker
July 9, 2018

Starbucks has announced plans to phase out plastic straws by 2020 in stores around the world and replace them with an innovative lid design that cuts out the need for drinking straws altogether. By 2020, it says that all iced coffee, espresso, and tea beverages will come with strawless lids, remodelled for easy sipping. The Seattle-based carrier, which said it handed out 22 million stir straws and citrus picks a year ago, also said it would have non-plastic, marine-friendly drinking straws for travelers that request them.

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Starbucks will begin rolling out the new lids this fall, starting with locations in Seattle and Vancouver. Straws, though, will still be available - made from paper or compostable plastic.

"Plastic straws that end up in our oceans have a devastating effect on species", said Erin Simon, director of sustainability research and development and material science at WWF, U.S. A global rollout will follow, starting in Europe where the strawless lids will arrive in select stores in France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

To eliminate straws, Starbucks is transitioning from the flat, plastic lids that require them, to ones that feature a raised lip you can drink from.

Earlier this month Seattle became the first major United States city to ban plastic straws and plastic cutlery in its eateries.

A number of restaurants and private establishments also have taken measures to curb their use of plastic straws. But I do hope the move does not make Starbucks (or its customers) complacent in the battle against all plastic pollution, particularly that which is caused by their single-use disposable coffee cups. The transition will be complete in 2019, the company said.

Starbuckshadalready committed $10 million to help develop recyclable, compostable cups for hot drinks.

Starting Tuesday July 10, Starbucks will also add two new permanent additions to its cold coffee menu in the USA and Canada: Salted Cream Cold Foam Cold Brew, featuring a strawless lid; and Iced Vanilla Bean Coconutmilk Latte, which consists of vanilla bean and coconutmilk shaken with ice, with shots of Starbucks signature espresso poured on top.

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