Starbucks to Phase Out Plastic Straws from Stores


Global coffee giant Starbucks announced it will be phasing out plastic straws from its more than 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020, in a bid to become environmentally sustainable. In place of straws, the company will be bringing into use a lid with a teardrop-shaped opening about the size of a thumbprint.

The design was the result of ten weeks of engineering and experimenting.

Starbucks goes through more than 1 billion plastic straws a year, according to the company, because of the surge in popularity of its cold-temperature drinks. In 2013, cold beverages accounted for 37% of Starbucks’ sales. By 2017, that number had increased to more than 50% of sales.

“For our partners and customers, this is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways,” said Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson.

The move is in response to demand from both partners and customers.

“This move is an answer to our own partners about what we can do to reduce the need for straws,” said Colleen Chapman, vice president of Starbucks global social impact overseeing sustainability. “Not using a straw is the best thing we can do for the environment.”

The lid replacing the straws is also made of plastic, but it’s made of polypropylene, so it can be easily recycled, the company says.

In addition to doing away with plastic straws Starbucks has also been experimenting with other sustainable solutions. Starbucks encourages customer to BYOT – “bring your own tumbler” – in which to fill their beverages, and in 2014 began selling $1 reusable cups in the U.S. The company has also been charging customers who order in a paper cup a fee in its London, England, locations.

Starbucks is the latest global consumer brand to strip plastic away from its locations. Last month, Swedish furniture giant IKEA announced it will be removing all single-use plastic products from its stores by 2020, including cups, utensils, straws, beverage stirrers and similar items.

Photo by Starbucks

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