Starbucks commits to phasing out plastic straws at all locations by 2020

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      Starbucks, the largest coffeehouse chain in the world, has announced that it will eliminate single-use plastic straws at all 28,218 of its stores by 2020.

      The U.S.–based company, which operates shops in more than 50 countries, says it is the biggest food-and-beverage retailer yet to make such a global commitment. The move will divert an estimated one billion plastic straws from landfills per year.

      In place of plastic straws, Starbucks has developed and produced what it calls a “strawless lid”, which allows users to sip beverages directly from the cup. They will be used on all ice coffee, tea, and espresso drinks. Although the caps are still made of plastic, Starbucks claims that their polypropylene content makes them recyclable.

      In addition, the business is exploring sustainable straw alternatives, such as those crafted from paper or compostable plastic, which would come with Frappuccinos and other blended beverages. They would also be made available to customers by request.

      Seattle and Vancouver, two cities that have approved bans on plastic straws, will be the first to see Starbucks's strawless-lid rollout. The initiative will be launched in other regions over the next two years.

      Starbucks joins companies such as A&W Canada that have committed to eliminating plastic straws from their locations in the coming years. As more municipalities implement bans on single-use straws, utensils, and takeaway containers, many restaurants and food-and-beverage retailers face mounting pressure to introduce eco-conscious practices.

      Vancouver’s own plastic-straw proscription goes into effect on June 1, 2019. A city staff report submitted to council in May stated that approximately 57 million single-use straws are used in Canada on a daily basis. Many of these end up in our oceans, negatively affecting the health of our wildlife and waterways.

      Follow Lucy Lau on Twitter @lucylau.