Starbucks will eliminate plastic straws from their 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020, replacing them with specially engineered lids and biodegradable straws, according to a press release Monday.
The massive overhaul is expected to reduce over 1 billion straws annually, and environmentalists are already applauding the company.
“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,” said Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program. “With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we cannot afford to let industry sit on the sidelines.”
Part of what emboldened the coffee company to ditch straws was the unexpected popularity of a new type of lid they debuted in 2016 especially for use with their “nitro” cold brew.
Starbucks designers had wanted customers to drink draft beverages without a straw so they could fully enjoy the foamy goodness that floated on top of the drink. When they finally introduced the totally new type of lid with a wide mouth and an aerodynamic shape, customers went wild. Yes, they’re basically sippy cup lids for adults.
According to Clevver News, guests began asking for the specialized lids for all their beverages, not just the foamy ones. That’s when the company decided that these lids — made of polypropylene and are more recyclable than straws — would become the standard lid for cold drinks going forward.
In Asia, the lids are being tested for some beverages in markets including China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, said Starbucks.
While Starbucks is not the first corporation to get on the straw-free bandwagon, they will be the largest food and beverage retailer to do so, a representative told Bustle.
The company also says they hope their status as a well-known brand will influence even more retailers to adopt environmentally friendly policies.
“Starbucks is finally drawing a line in the sand and creating a mold for other large brands to follow,” said Chris Milne, director of packaging sourcing for Starbucks. “We are raising the water line for what’s acceptable and inspiring our peers to follow suit.”
But hey, we’re not complaining. We’re just happy that one of the world’s largest coffee chains is using their powers for good — especially after some doubts were raised over its use of palm oil and the recyclability of its cups.