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09 July 2018, 09:26 | Dale Webster
MANDEL NGAN AFP Getty Images file A Starbucks in Washington D.C
Starbucks - which has more than 28,000 stores and generated $22.4 billion in annual revenue past year - is the largest retailer to commit to eliminating single-use plastic straws. Straws, though, will still be available - made from paper or compostable plastic.
The Seattle-based coffee chain estimates the action will save more than one billion plastic straws from hitting the garbage can each year, and is key to its "commitment to develop a fully recyclable and compostable global cup solution".
Kevin Johnson, Starbucks president and CEO, called the move a "significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways". In a release, the company stated its stores in Seattle and Vancouver would see the departure of plastic straws first, beginning in the fall.
Starbucks' decision to stop using the straws follows last week's news that its founding city, Seattle, banned the use of all plastic straws and utensils in bars and restaurants in a push to reduce waste and prevent marine plastic pollution. "Metal straws can be unsafe for people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson's whereas reusable plastic straws present hygiene concerns to people with specific health conditions". Oakland and Berkeley, California, and other cities have also banned the use of disposable straws.
The announcement from McDonald's followed an April proposal by the United Kingdom government to ban plastic straws in the country. Do the math and you'll arrive at about 73,000 metrics tons of plastic straws per year.
"Starbucks' goal to eliminate plastic straws by 2020 from their stores globally represents the company's forward thinking in tackling the material waste challenge in totality", Erin Simon, director of sustainability research & development and material science at World Wildlife Fund, U.S., said in a statement. Phased rollouts within the USA 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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