Amid ongoing company conversations about reducing waste and safeguarding the environment, Starbucks announced in June 2018 that it will phase out plastic straws from its more than 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020, a decision that will eliminate more than 1 billion straws a year.
In their place? Cold-cup lids, which are currently used for a small number of drinks including Draft Nitro and Cold Foam in more than 8,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada. They will become the standard lid for all iced drinks except Frappuccino, which will be served with a straw made from paper or PLA compostable plastic manufactured from fermented plant starch or other sustainable material. Customers who prefer or need a straw can request one made of alternative materials for use with any cold drink.
“Starbucks’ decision to phase out single-use plastic straws is a shining example of the important role that companies can play in stemming the tide of ocean plastic. With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we cannot afford to let industry sit on the sidelines,” said Nicholas Mallos, Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program.
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. Developing a recyclable alternative to plastic straws is particularly important as Starbucks’ cold beverage offerings continue to increase in popularity. Five years ago, cold beverages comprised 37 per cent of sales; by 2017, that figure had jumped to more than 50 per cent.