Food Service Giant Aramark Is Phasing Out Plastic Straws

July 24, 2018, 3:10 PM UTC

Aramark, which handles food service operations for schools, hospitals, convention centers, and stadiums and arenas around the country, plans to phase out plastic straws and stirrers in most locations.

The company, in an announcement, says it will begin offering eco-friendly alternatives where possible starting in September. (The phase-out won’t be a total one, though, as the Aramark notes hospital patients and some with special needs will still require plastic straws and it will continue to offer them for those customers.)

The reductions will vary by location, but Aramark says it’s aiming for a complete elimination of plastic straws and stirrers from the nation’s parks and residential dining halls of higher education facilities. In K-12 schools, sports venues, and health care facilities, it’s anticipating a 30% to 60% reduction in usage.

Aramark serves nearly 2 billion meals per day in 19 countries. It runs the food service operations of more than 5,400 business dining locations, over 2,000 health care facilities, and 1,500 schools. By 2020, the company says, the policy shift will result in nearly 100 million fewer straws being used around the world.

Beyond straws, the company says it plans to reduce the use of any single-use plastics (such as bags, forks, and knives) and expand its offerings with reusable containers and bags.

“Aramark shares our guests’ passion to protect and preserve our oceans,” said Eric Foss, Chairman, president and CEO at Aramark. “Today’s announcement provides an opportunity to make meaningful achievements in minimizing our environmental impact, while continuing to deliver experiences that enrich and nourish lives,”

Aramark is one of a growing number of companies phasing out single-use plastic straws. Hyatt Hotels and Marriott have both announced plans to eliminate them, as has Starbucks. Even McDonalds plans to jettison plastic straws in some European markets, though hasn’t made any U.S. announcements yet.