On Monday, coffee giant Starbucks announced a phase out of plastic straws globally in its stores by 2020. The announcement came after months of pressure by more than 20 environmental organizations asking Starbucks to stop polluting the planet with single-use plastic.
The company said the move to eliminate plastic straws would remove more than one billion plastic straws per year from the waste stream.
More than 500 million plastic straws are used each day in the U.S. alone. Plastic straws consistently make the Top Ten list of items found on the beach, according to International Coastal Cleanup data.
“We are thrilled by the announcement from Starbucks that they will stop serving plastic straws and take this first step to address their single-use plastic problem,” said Jackie Nuñez, who founded The Last Plastic Straw (a project of Plastic Pollution Coalition) in 2011. “We challenge Starbucks to take the next step in social and environmental responsibility by promoting reusable cups, straws, and cutlery, and eliminating the need for single-use plastic.”
Starbucks trialed paper straws in Santa Cruz, California, in Sept. 2017, when a local ordinance banned plastic foodware (including plastic straws) in the county. Since that date, cities such as Malibu, California, and Seattle, Washington, have used that ordinance as a model to ban plastic straws and reduce plastic pollution.
At the current rate of global consumption of plastic, scientists predict there will be more plastic than fish by weight in our oceans by 2050. In the marine environment, plastic breaks down into small indigestible particles that birds and marine animals mistake for food, resulting in illness and death. Even in the ocean, toxic chemicals adhere to plastic particles where they may make their way up the food chain.
“We are thankful to our partner organizations and more than 700 member groups that put pressure on Starbucks to stop contributing to the global plastic pollution catastrophe,” said Dianna Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition. “We encourage everyone to REFUSE single-use plastic and bring your own cup for coffee. Together we can achieve a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on humans, animals, waterways and oceans, and the environment.”
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