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Starbucks to say goodbye to plastic straws by 2020

Coffee giant Starbucks (SBUX), which recently made headlines for the wrong reasons, took a green initiative this week. The positive gesture, which comes at a time when corporates across the country are increasingly switching to environment-friendly business models, could set an example for others in the sector.

The company will stop providing single-use plastic straws to customers in a phased manner as part of its efforts to make operations more eco-friendly. Instead, beverages will be served at the 28,000-odd Starbuck outlets in cups with recyclable straw-less lids.

The compostable lid, which is already in use in various stores in the US, will fully replace plastic straws in all Starbucks markets by 2020. The company will begin the transition this fall by implementing the new system in Seattle and Vancouver. Then, the other US cities will be covered, followed by Europe and the rest of the world. Earlier this year, Starbucks had promised to develop a hot cup that is fully recyclable, following criticism from environmentalists.

The company will stop providing plastic straws to customers in a phased manner as part of its efforts to make operations more eco-friendly

Meanwhile, statistics show the contribution of plastic straws to environmental pollution is comparatively meager.  What makes them the ideal target is the fact that most people don’t mind drinking beverages without using a straw.

Last week, the government had imposed a ban on the use of plastic items including straws and utensils in restaurants operating in Seattle, where Starbucks is headquartered. Similar regulations are being considered by the authorities in other areas amidst widespread demand for corporates to make their businesses more eco-friendly.

It is learned that McDonald’s (MCD) is all set to come up with non-plastic alternatives at its outlets. Ikea, Alaska Airlines, and SeaWorld are among the companies which have already stopped the use of plastic straws completely.

What makes the shift significant is the scale of Starbucks’ business worldwide, comprising the vast network of stores where nearly one billion plastic straws are used annually. Meanwhile, the company has arrangements in place for customers who insist on straws – they will be provided with straws made of eco-friendly materials such as paper and compostable plastic.

There has been widespread concern over the plastic menace across the world and its impact on the environment, especially oceans where pollution is taking a significant toll on marine life.

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