Starbucks, citing ocean threat, is ditching plastic straws

Starbucks' plan to phase out plastic straws will begin in Vancouver and Seattle

Starbucks' plan to phase out plastic straws will begin in Vancouver and Seattle

The coffee giant said Monday that it will replace the ubiquitous plastic straw with recyclable "strawless lids", as well as straws made from biodegradable materials, as part of a no-plastic-straws movement that has gained momentum in recent years.

Starbucks will eliminate plastic straws from its stores globally by 2020, in a nod to the growing push for businesses to be more environmentally friendly.

The company will broaden the manufacture and use of what some in social media have dubbed the "adult sippy cup".

The company said it will make a strawless lid available at 8,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada for certain drinks.

As BBC News reported in February, a Scotland-based disability group called One in Five says paper, plant-based, and metal straws aren't adequate substitutes for single-use plastic straws and could even be unsafe for people, depending on their disability.

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The move will eliminate more than one billion plastic straws per year, the company said. It is now also in the middle of testing paper straws in its United Kingdom stores. "Metal straws can be risky for people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson's whereas reusable plastic straws present hygiene concerns to people with specific health conditions". Seattle's ban on plastic straws and utensils went into effect last week.

The UK government said that 1 million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals die each year from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.

The company is the latest to announce a ban on the straws as global awareness of ocean pollution and harm to marine life increases.

"By nature, the straw isn't recyclable and the lid is, so we feel this decision is more sustainable and more socially responsible", said Chris Milne, director of packaging sourcing for Starbucks.

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