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Starbucks is Ditching the Plastic Straw

The company says new recyclable lids will replace single use plastic straws by 2020

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Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks announced on July 9 it will phase out plastic straws from its worldwide stores by 2020, a decision Starbucks says will eliminate over 1 billion single-use straws per year.

Starbucks said the replacement is a recyclable lid designed by Emily Alexander, an engineer in Global Research and Development at the coffee company, who originally set out to design a strawless lid for cold brews. Alexander’s design features a teardrop-shaped opening about the size of a thumbprint, giving a cleaner, less rigid version of a hot cup lid.

The cold-cup lids are currently used on a few drinks, including Draft Nitro and Cold Foam, in over 8,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada, Starbucks says. They are set to become the standard lid for all iced drinks except Frappuccino, which will come with straws made from paper of PLA compostable plastic made from fermented plant starch or other sustainable material. Customers who still want straws may request one of the alternative-material ones.



In Starbucks’ press release, Erin Simon, the director of sustainability research and development and material science at World Wildlife Fund U.S. said Starbucks’ decision to eliminate plastic straws was, “forward-thinking in tackling the material waste challenge.”

The coffee company said it has also invested $10 million in the NextGen Cup Challenge, which seeks to develop a fully recyclable and compostable hot cup. It also encourages customers to “bring their own tumbler” and began selling a $1 reusable cup in the U.S. in 2014.

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