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Starbucks has dealt a serious blow in the battle against plastic pollution.
The coffee giant has announced it will eliminate all plastic straws from its 28,000 global stores, saving an estimated one billion straws each year.
Instead, it will introduce a new recyclable lid and alternative straw options (compostable and paper) to its worldwide customer base. The commitment builds on a pledge made earlier this year to invest $10 million in creating a truly sustainable coffee cup.
The new strawless lid design will be introduced at its hometown of Seattle and Vancouver with a wider roll-out across North America in 2019.
“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,” said Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer for Starbucks.
Europe will likely see the improvements by 2020, starting in France, the Netherlands and the UK. Select stores in London have also been trialling the use of a 5p paper cup charge, which will soon expand to 950 locations.
“Starbucks goal to eliminate plastic straws by 2020 from their stores globally represents the company’s forward thinking in tackling the material waste challenge in totality,” said Erin Simon, director of sustainability research & development and material science at WWF USA.
Nicholas Mallos at the Ocean Conservancy added: “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…we cannot afford to let industry sit on the sidelines, and we are grateful for Starbucks leadership in this space.”
Plastic straws remain just one part of Starbucks’ plans to improve sustainability. The company is seeking to source 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources and bring 1,500 up to the highest environmental standards.

Photo Credit: Starbucks