Why Is Starbucks Banning Single-Use Plastic Straws?

Starbucks is joining the strawless empire. The coffee company announced on Monday that it is stopping the use of single-use plastic straws and plans to ban them entirely from its stores worldwide by 2020. Instead of the single-use plastic straws, Starbucks announced that it will start using “strawless lids” and straws made from “alternative materials,” such as paper or “compostable plastic.” The company also said these straws will be available by request.

Starbucks already started this movement to help the environment by starting the use of its “strawless lids” in about 8,000 select stores around North America. These lids already come with specific drinks such as the Starbucks Draft Nitro and Cold Foam and will come with the Salted Cream Cold Foam Cold Brew, which will be released on Tuesday. The lids are similar to sippy cup lids. They are regular plastic lids with an elevated and slanted mouthpiece for customers to sip on.

Starbucks is not the first company to ban plastic straws. It has united with many companies, cities, and countries around the world that have started this movement. Fast Company addressed that plastic straws have been banned or are planned to be banned by Alaska Airlines and McDonald’s U.K., as well as in Vancuver, Taiwan, Seattle, Miami Beach, and some some California cities.

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Even though these new changes are destined to cut down plastic pollution in the ocean, they have been doubted for their capability and blamed for being ableist, according to Pacific Standard. BBC News said in February that a Scotland-based disability group called One In Five believe that paper, plant-based, and metal straws aren’t acceptable substitutes for single-use plastic straws and could be harmful for certain people.

“As you may be aware most paper and plant-based alternatives are not flexible or suitable for drinks over 40C, therefore increases the risks of choking,” One in Five wrote in a letter, according to BBC News. “Metal straws can be dangerous for people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s whereas reusable plastic straws present hygiene concerns to people with specific health conditions.”

Starbucks has announced that Seattle and Vancouver will be the first two cities for the company to go strawless this fall, with the others to trail.

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