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Waste Not
The Last Straws? Starbucks Eliminating Them Globally, More Regional Bans

Following Vancouver’s approval of a strategic plan to achieve zero waste and phase out plastic straws and other select packaging, its neighbor to the south is also taking action. Seattle recently became the first major U.S.

Following Vancouver’s approval of a strategic plan to achieve zero waste and phase out plastic straws and other select packaging, its neighbor to the south is also taking action. Seattle recently became the first major U.S. city to ban plastic straws and announced funding for a three-year project that will produce a roadmap to achieve carbon neutral energy for the city, among other climate action priorities.

The city-level bans are getting brands’ attention. Customers in Seattle and Vancouver will be the first to see Starbucks implement the new strawless lids it designed, developed and manufactured, starting this fall as part of the company’s new plans to eliminate single-use plastic straws by 2020.

Starbucks announced the commitment today, which will take effect across its more than 28,000 company operated and licensed stores around the world in a series of phased rollouts. Single-use disposable straws will be replaced by the strawless lid or alternative-material straw options. Starbucks - the largest food and beverage retailer to make such a global commitment - anticipates the move will eliminate more than one billion plastic straws per year from Starbucks stores.

“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 CEO of Starbucks.

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Following implementation in Seattle and Vancouver this fall, the coffee chain will deliver the new alternatives to other locations within the U.S. and Canada in the next fiscal year. A global rollout will follow, beginning in Europe where strawless lids will arrive in select stores in France and the Netherlands, as well as in the U.K. just as the market expands its 5p paper cup charge to 950 stores, to further promote reusability.

“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. With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we cannot afford to let industry sit on the sidelines, and we are grateful for Starbucks leadership in this space,” said Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program.

The move builds on the company’s $10 million commitment to develop a fully recyclable and compostable global cup solution, announced in March.

Meanwhile, India announced a commitment to eradicate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022.

UN Environment touted the announcement as an “unprecedented ambitious move against disposable plastic,” and noted the significance of such a shift by a country of 1.3 billion people and with the world’s fastest growing economy.

India’s Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Dr. Harsh Vardhan made the announcement during last month’s World Environment Day celebration, for which this year’s theme was “Beat Plastic Pollution.” As part of the official ceremony in Delhi, the Indian government, in collaboration with UN Environment also launched a joint World Environment Day Report: Single-use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability. The report presents case studies from more than 60 countries, analyzes the complex relationships in the plastics economy and offers an approach to rethink how the world produces, uses and manages single-use plastics.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi further pledged India’s commitment to join UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign, which seeks to turn the tide on marine litter. India has 7,500 km (approximately 4660 miles) of coastline – the 7th longest in Asia. As part of this commitment, the government will establish a national and regional marine litter action campaign as well as a program to measure the total marine plastic footprint in India’s coastal waters. It shares the intentions to protect oceans seen in the Ocean Plastics Charter recently signed by five of the G7 nations.