Starbucks Will Eliminate Plastic Straws Globally by 2020

July 9, 2018, 10:00 AM UTC

Say goodbye to plastic straws at Starbucks.

In a move intended to cut back on waste, the international coffee giant said Monday that it would eliminate plastic straws from its more than 28,000 locations globally by 2020.

Starbucks (SBUX) will replace plastic straws with recyclable strawless lids, which it will serve with all of its iced coffee, tea, and espresso drinks. The new lids are already being used in more than 8,000 stores in North America for beverages such as draft nitro.

Straws made with alternative materials like paper and compostable plastic will be provided with Frappuccinos, as well as upon request by customers.

The company said it is the largest food and beverage retailer to make such a commitment—a decision that will eliminate more than 1 billion plastic straws per year from its stores.

The announcement comes after Seattle, Starbucks’ home market, banned restaurants from using plastic straws and utensils on July 1. The ordinance is a reflection of a broader global movement to cut back on plastic usage as consumers become more aware of its environmental impact—particularly its role in polluting the world’s oceans. Several other U.S. cities have already implemented similar bans, or have proposed legislation in the works.

Straws are a small contributor to the overall plastic problem, but they are an easy target since most people don’t require a straw to consume a beverage.

Starbucks will start the transition away from plastic straws in Seattle and in Vancouver in the fall, before launching a phased rollout in the U.S. in its fiscal 2019. A global rollout, starting with Europe, will come next.

Other companies, such as food service operator Bon Appetit Management, Alaska Airlines, Ikea, and SeaWorld have already banned plastic straws, and McDonald’s is currently testing a non-plastic alternative.

Starbucks has come under fire from environmental groups in the past because its paper cups are hard to recycle—a problem not unique to Starbucks. In March, the company committed $10 million to help develop a fully recyclable and compostable hot cup.

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