Starbucks plans to ban plastic straws

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"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", Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy's Trash Free Seas program said. In the US, Seattle - hometown of Starbucks - is the only major city to have so far banned the use of plastic straws in its eateries.

Plastic straws represent a comparatively small amount of all plastic waste, Reuters says, but they are more hard to recycle than other plastic items.

Alaska Airlines said in May that it's phasing out the use of plastic stirrers and straws in its drinks after receiving a call to action from an environmentally-concerned Girl Scout.

According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, over 500,000,000 plastic straws are used each day in the US alone. For those customers who insist on straws, the company will offer eco-friendly versions made of paper or compostable plastic.

Founder of Sustainable Coastlines Camden Howitt says plastic straws are three-quarters of the plastic they find on New Zealand coastlines, with 60,000 stray straws picked up on our beaches over the last 10 years.

Starbucks declined to comment on the financial impact of replacing plastic straws, which have become widely used in restaurants in part because they are so cheap.

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The issue is coming up in company boardrooms, though Starbucks is taking the lead among large food chains. The transition will be complete in 2019, the company said.

The straw-specific concern garnered widespread support after a 2015 viral video showed rescuers removing a plastic straw from an endangered sea turtle's nose.

The food and beverage retailer said Monday that it would switch to a strawless lid or alternative-material straw in place of plastic straws.

The advocacy group 5 Gyres notes that the top five biggest sources of single-use plastic are plastic bags, water bottles, to-go containers, to-go cups and straws. They'll also have alternative material straw options.

"Starbucks taught the world how to drink coffee and I firmly believe that Starbucks can teach the world how to make the environment its ultimate business partner", Grenier said.