Starbucks has announced that it will eliminate plastic straws globally by 2020. As an alternative, the coffee and beverage giant will introduce strawless lids and alternative-material straw options to replace single-use plastic straws in 28,000+ stores around the world.
The strawless lid is already available in some 8,000 stores in North America for drinks like Starbucks Draft Nitro and Cold Foam, and will be expanded globally. The company will begin offering straws made from alternative materials – including paper or compostable plastic – for Frappuccinos, and available by request for customers who prefer or need a straw.
The commitment from Starbucks will eliminate more than 1 billion plastic straws per year from Starbucks stores. Starbucks customers in Seattle and Vancouver will be the first to see these changes starting this fall, with more markets to follow after.
"Starbucks is focused on adapting to rapidly changing consumer trends, with cold beverages accounting for more than 50% of Starbucks beverage mix in the U.S., up from 37% just five years ago. The movement to eliminate plastic straws has been gaining tremendous momentum globally: going strawless is the right thing to do for our environment, our partners and our business," the press release said.
The lid that is replacing the straws is also made of plastic, but its polypropylene content can be widely recycled. “By nature, the straw isn’t recyclable and the lid is, so we feel this decision is more sustainable and more socially responsible,” said Chris Milne, director of packaging sourcing for Starbucks. “Starbucks is finally drawing a line in the sand and creating a mold for other large brands to follow. We are raising the water line for what’s acceptable and inspiring our peers to follow suit.”
Eliminating straws is a response to requests from partners and customers, said Colleen Chapman, vice president of Starbucks global social impact overseeing sustainability. “This move is an answer to our own partners about what we can do to reduce the need for straws,” she said. “Not using a straw is the best thing we can do for the environment.”
Going strawless is just one of the ways that Starbucks is thinking through more sustainable approaches to single-use packaging. The company has invested $10 million in the NextGen Cup Challenge, which seeks to develop a fully recyclable and compostable hot cup.
Starbucks is also encouraging customers to BYOT — “bring your own tumbler” — as part of its efforts to reduce waste. In 2014, Starbucks began selling a $1 reusable cup in the U.S. The cups soon became available in Canada and the U.K. as well. More than 18 million have been sold as of this writing.