These 8 Companies Are Ditching Plastic Straws. Here’s How They Are Replacing Them
Starbucks announced its plans this week to eliminate all plastic straws from its stores by 2020, which the company described as “forward thinking in tackling the material waste challenge.” The coffee purveyor is joined by at least seven other companies in ditching plastic straws to cut back on environmental waste.
The world’s oceans are filled with more than 150 million tons of plastic, according to the Ocean Conservancy. Starbucks estimates that its plans will eliminate more than 1 billion plastic straws each year from its more than 28,000 stores around the country.
So what will companies replace their plastic straws with? Here’s a brief guide.
Starbucks will replace straws with recyclable plastic lids for all cold beverages. Straws made from other materials, like paper and compostable plastic, are also available for use with Frappuccinos upon request.
Starting September 1, the hotel company will only make plastic straws available by request. Hyatt added that “eco-friendly alternatives” would be made available for other products, but did not specify what the alternatives are.
Hoping to cut its environmental footprint in half by 2030, Hilton Hotels outlined its plans to remove plastic straws from 650 properties in 2018. The company says it will replace the plastic straws with a paper or biodegradable option.
4. Marriott UK
In February, Marriott International said it would remove plastic straws from more than 60 of its UK hotels, according to the BBC. The company says it will provide alternative options, like biodegradable or paper straws to customers who request them.
5. American Airlines
American Airlines joined Starbucks and Hyatt by announcing on Tuesday its plans to ditch plastic straws by November of this year. The company will replace plastic straws onboard planes with biodegradable alternatives.
6. Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines also announced in May that it would start to replace plastic straws this summer with “sustainable, marine-friendly alternatives,” according to the Associated Press.
7. SeaWorld Entertainment
SeaWorld Entertainment announced as “part of its mission to protect animals and habitats worldwide,” that it would eliminate single-use plastic straws and bags from all 12 of its theme parks. The company did not include in its announcement any plans to replace the products with other sustainable materials.
8. Royal Caribbean
Earlier this year, the company said it would eliminate plastic straws from all 50 ships by 2019. Royal Caribbean also said it will offer paper straws to customers by request.
Plastic Straw Bans
In addition to the companies announcing plans to eliminate plastic straws, a number of cities have also said they would ban them and fine facilities that don’t comply. Cities with plastic straw policies include Miami Beach, Seattle, Oakland, and Berkeley.
While some environmental groups have applauded the efforts to clean up oceans by eliminating plastic straws, disability rights groups have said that a total ban on would negatively affect people with physical disabilities.
Access Living, a Chicago-based disability rights organization told Fortune that banning plastic straws is cause for concern: “Many people with disabilities rely on plastic straws as the only way they can drink. Some have proposed the use of metal, glass, bamboo, or paper straws and all of these have issues for at least some people with disabilities.”
The group explained that straws made from alternative materials such as metal, glass, and bamboo “can cause pain or injury to the mouth. Paper straws have a tendency to dissolve. Many people with disabilities need the flexibility of plastic straws because of how their bodies work, or because of how they use their mouths to sip.”