Seattle, Wash. (CBS Local/AP) — Starbucks says it will eliminate plastic straws from its stores globally by 2020, a nod to the growing push for businesses to be more environmentally friendly.
The company will become the largest food and beverage company operating globally to ban plastic straws from all of its stores.
The Seattle-based company said Monday it will instead use straws made from other materials, and lids designed not to need straws. McDonald’s also 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 U.S. locations.
Environmental activists have been pressuring businesses to ditch plastic straws because they can end up in the ocean and hurt marine life. The push gained traction after a viral video in 2015 showed rescuers removing a straw from a sea turtle’s nose in graphic detail.
Local governments have also been looking at the issue. Last week, Seattle’s ban on single-use plastic straws and utensils in food service outlets took effect, and Starbucks says it already offers alternative straws there. Similar proposals are being considered elsewhere, including New York and San Francisco.
Starbucks said Monday that it is making available a strawless lid at 8,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada for certain drinks.
Starbucks Coffee Co. estimates the switch will eliminate more than 1 billion plastic straws a year. Starbucks said cold beverages in which a straw is typically included make up 50 percent of the drinks its sells, up from just 37 percent five years ago.
While straws have become a high-profile issue, they make up only about 4 percent of the plastic trash by number of pieces, and far less by weight. Straws add up to only about 2,000 tons of the nearly 9 million tons of plastic waste that hits waters a year.
Still, those who support limiting plastic straws say they are generally unnecessary and a ban is good symbol.
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