Starbucks
In an effort to be more sustainable, Starbucks is getting rid of single-use plastic straws. (Image via Mark Makela)

Your Starbucks cup is going to look a little different from now on. The Seattle-based company is following in the footsteps of other U.S. cities and restaurants in their decision to ban plastic straws.

Cold beverages account for more than 50 percent of beverages sold in stores across the United States, and sales have only increased over the past five years, meaning more and more straws are being used and distributed into the environment.

According to the National Parks Service, Americans use 500 million drinking straws every day, which amounts to about 1.6 straws each day per person. Straws, stirrers and other plastic utensils harm the environment, especially when they end up in the ocean.

So Starbucks’ alternative? Strawless lids. According to the press release, “Starbucks has designed, developed, and manufactured a strawless life, which will become the standard for all ice coffee, tea, and espresso beverages.”

These new lids can already be seen in over 8,000 stores across the United States and Canada, and will be made available to customers in Seattle and Vancouver this upcoming fall.

Starbucks
Starbucks is replacing their straws with what some are calling “adult sippy cups.” (Image via Westerly News)

While Seattle has become the first city in the United States to ban plastic straws and utensils in its restaurants and businesses, other cities and states are taking the initiative to eliminate the use of plastic products.

In New York City, Hawaii and California, there is pending legislation on a straw ban. Other areas following Seattle’s example are Malibu, Berkeley, Monmouth Beach in New Jersey, Miami Beach and Fort Myers, Florida.

Starbucks, the largest food and beverage retailer to make this transition, believes this movement will help to eliminate more than one billion straws a year from stores.

The company’s new initiative to eliminate straws aligns with their dedication to sustainability over the last 30 years. Some of their other environmentally friendly actions include ethically sourced coffee, a discount for customers who bring reusable cups and a $10 million commitment to the development of a fully recyclable cup for hot beverages.

Kevin Johnson, the president and CEO of Starbucks, said the decision furthers their vision for a more eco-friendly environment.

“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,” Johnson said.

The ultimate goal with this initiative is to completely eliminate straws in stores by the year 2020, although the company will still provide compostable straws made from an alternative-material, which will be available upon request.

Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program, said he hopes other companies will follow the example Starbucks has set.

“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 8 million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we cannot afford to let industry sit on the sidelines, and we are grateful for Starbucks leadership in this space.”

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