Photo: Daniel McAvoy via Flickr
Slurping your drink by plastic straw may soon be a relic of the past. On Monday, the world’s largest coffee seller, Starbucks, said it plans to ban plastic straws at all of its 28,000 locations by 2020 as part of a sustainability plan. With the decision, Starbucks predicts it will “eliminate more than one billion plastic straws per year” from the rotation.
Instead of the plastic straw, Starbucks said it will use strawless lids for its tea, ice coffee, and espresso drinks. “This is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways,” Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer for Starbucks, said.
Starbucks joins other companies banning plastic
Starbucks is part of a growing push from government and businesses to ban plastic. Earlier this year, Alaska Airlines said it was saying switching out plastic straws with more ocean-friendly options like birch and bamboo by this summer. The Hilton hotel chain and Royal Caribbean cruise line have pledged to ban plastic straws by the end of 2018. Cities like Seattle and Fort Myers, Florida, have already made bans to the single-use plastic.
This movement is encouraging for environmentalists who have long sounded the alarm on plastic’s harm. The non-biodegradable material clogs up our oceans and hurts marine life. There are 150 million metric tons of plastics in the ocean, according to the World Economic Forum. And if we continue down this path, scientists predict we will have more plastic than fish by 2050.
Why is everyone focusing on plastic straws? Environmentalists consider them an everyday plastic that is one of the easiest for us to eliminate from our plastic diet.
“I think a lot of people feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the plastic problem,” Diana Lofflin, the founder of StrawFree.org, told the New York Times. “Giving up plastic straws is a small step and an easy thing for people to get started on. From there, we can move on to larger projects.”