Starbucks Bid to Replace Plastic Straws With Plastic Lids Stirs Up Controversy

Starbucks Bid to Replace Plastic Straws With Plastic Lids Stirs Up Controversy
iStock/segray

Starbucks says it plans to remove all plastic straws from its 28,000 stores across the globe by 2020 in an effort to reduce its environmental footprint.

“Not using a straw is the best thing we can do for the environment,” the company said in a statement. Starbucks says it was a decision prompted by both its partners and customers. The move comes a week after Seattle, where Starbucks is based, announced the nation’s first citywide ban on plastic straws.

Just last month McDonald’s announced plans to shift away from plastic straws and switch to sustainable alternatives in all of its stores eventually.

The coffee chain says it has designed a plastic lid for chilled drinks that works much in the same way as hot drink lids, providing a slotted sipping area. But the new lids have earned Starbucks its share of criticism as well for using plastic.

In response to a Twitter post where Starbucks shared a picture of the new plastic lid affixed to a plastic cup, one Twiter user commented, “Yet image still has plastic cup and plastic lid which makes about 6 straws.”

A number of followers shared similiar concerns over the move, noting that the lids also find their ways to the oceans unlike a biodegradable option.

But some fans showed support, saying the chain was taking a step in the right direction toward eliminating plastic waste.

The straw has become a poster item for anti-plastic efforts across the globe. In the U.S. alone an estimated 500 million plastic straws are thrown away every day — that’s nearly double the number of straws as the entire population of the country.

Straws, like other plastic pollution, often find their way to the world’s oceans where marine life can mistake them for food. Plastic has been found inside the stomachs of countless fish and marine life already facing challenges such as overfishing, ocean acidification, and warming ocean temperatures.

Some estimates put plastic waste in the world’s oceans at more than 10 million tonnes.

Find Jill on Twitter and Instagram

Related on Organic Authority

Research Showing Fish Enjoy Eating Microplastics a ‘Complete Fantasy’
Starbucks Becomes Latest Chain to Adopt Massive Animal Welfare Standards
Wendy’s to Transition to Greenhouse-Grown Tomatoes as Part of ‘Continued Investment’ in Quality Products

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.