Jul 10, 2019 09:01 AM EDT
Starbucks will eliminate plastic straws from all of its locations by next year, citing the environmental threat to oceans.
The strawless lids began to appear in Seattle and Vancouver Starbucks last fall, with phased rollouts within the US and Canada to follow this year. It will then spread to European countries such as France, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The ban will eventually be global at all of its 28,000 stores.
The move will eliminate about one billion straws from its stores per year, the company said in a press release. Starbucks becomes the largest food and beverage company to do so as calls to cut waste globally grow louder. And plastic straws have become a flashpoint.
A week after its hometown banned plastic drinking straws and utensils, the Seattle company said that by 2020, it will be using straws made from biodegradable materials like paper and specially designed lids. The company already offers alternative straws in Seattle.
The waste issue is coming up in company boardrooms, though Starbucks is taking the lead among global companies on straws. Early last year, Dunkin' Donuts said that it would eliminate polystyrene foam cups from its stores by 2020. However, McDonald's shareholders voted down a proposal requesting a report on plastic straws in May.
McDonald's recently said it would switch to paper straws in the United Kingdom and Ireland by next year, and test alternatives to plastic straws in some US locations. The burger chain said this year that it would use only recycled or other environmentally friendly materials for its soda cups, Happy Meal boxes and other packaging by 2025.
While plastic drinking straws have become one of the more high-profile issues environmentally, they make up only about 4 percent of the plastic trash by number of pieces, and far less by weight. Straws add up to about 2,000 tons of the nearly 9 million tons of plastic waste that ends up in waters around the globe each year.
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