Starbucks to Eliminate Plastic Straws by 2020

Enlarge ImageIt's the lid heard around the world.                  Starbucks

Enlarge ImageIt's the lid heard around the world. Starbucks

Environmental activists have been pressuring businesses to ditch plastic straws because they can end up in the ocean and hurt marine life. Plastic straws have become a flashpoint.

The company will broaden the manufacture and use of what some in social media have dubbed the "adult sippy cup".

Straws made with alternative materials like paper and compostable plastic will be provided with Frappuccinos, as well as upon request by customers. The company has already designed and developed a strawless lid that it expects to become a standard for its iced coffee, tea and espresso beverages.

In a statement, CEO Kevin Johnson called the move away from plastic straws a "significant milestone" in the company's sustainability efforts. And it's a part of Starbucks' $10 million investment in creating recyclable and compostable cups around the world.

Starbucks will start rolling out strawless lids for all drinks in the fall.

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This follows an announcement by McDonald's that it would switch to paper straws in the United Kingdom and Ireland by next year, and test alternatives to plastic straws in some USA locations. The transition will be complete in 2019, the company said.

The no-straw movement, which had already been brewing in certain communities and beach towns, gained mainstream traction three years ago after a video showing a sea turtle with a plastic straw wedged in its nose went viral.

The announcement comes after Seattle, Starbucks' home market, banned restaurants from using plastic straws and utensils on July 1. Straws add up to about 2,000 tons of the almost nine million tons of plastic waste that ends up in the water each year. Phased rollouts within the U.S. and Canada will then follow.

Starbucks is to ban plastic straws from all of of its stores by 2020, amounting to the elimination of more than one billion plastic straws each year.

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