Starbucks to Eliminate Plastic Straws by 2020

Plastics and other debris line an estuary in Kentucky

While straws have become a high-profile issue, they make up only about four per cent of the plastic trash by number of pieces, and far less by weight.

Starbucks will start the transition away from plastic straws in Seattle and in Vancouver in the fall, before launching a phased rollout in the U.S.in its fiscal 2019.

At Starbucks, executives said the efforts are part of a $10 million plan to develop cups and lids that are fully recyclable and compostable.

The company said in a release that paper or compostable straws will be available for customers upon request, and will be served with their Frappuccino blended drinks. Several other USA cities have already implemented similar bans, or have proposed legislation in the works.

McDonald's also said last month that it would replace plastic straws with paper ones in the United Kingdom and Ireland from September.

The no-straw movement, which had already been brewing in certain communities and beach towns, gained mainstream traction three years ago after a video showing a sea turtle with a plastic straw wedged in its nose went viral.

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Starbucks said that it will begin using the strawless alternatives in Seattle and Vancouver stores by this fall, and expand to the USA and Canada, followed by other global locations, in fiscal year 2019.

In the United States, local governments are already putting similar restrictions into place. Oakland and Berkeley, California, and other cities have also banned the use of disposable straws.

"Plastic straws that end up in our oceans have a devastating effect on species", said Erin Simon, director of sustainability research & development and material science at World Wildlife Fund, US, in a statement.

Starbucks said that it is the largest food and beverage retailer to have promised to get rid of plastic straws. Phased rollouts within the U.S. and Canada will then follow.

"With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we can not afford to let industry sit on the sidelines", he said in a statement.

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