Starbucks has today announced that it will phase out plastic straws from its more than 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020.
This decision will eliminate more than 1 billion straws a year, replacing them with a new lid - which is also made of plastic, but can be 'widely recycled'.
The new lid features a teardrop-shaped opening about the size of a thumbprint, and is described by the coffee giant as 'a cleaner, less-ridged version of a hot cup lid'.
The new lids are currently replacing straws for a small number of drinks including Draft Nitro and Cold Foam in more than 8,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada.
According to Starbucks: "They will become the standard lid for all iced drinks except Frappuccino, which will be served with a straw made from paper or PLA compostable plastic manufactured from fermented plant starch or other sustainable material.
"Customers who prefer or need a straw can request one made of alternative materials for use with any cold drink. Last year in Santa Cruz, Calif., Starbucks started testing out straws made from materials other than traditional plastic. It is now in the middle of testing paper straws in its U.K. stores."
Talking about the swap, Chris Milne, Director of Packaging Sourcing for Starbucks, said: "By nature, the straw isn't recyclable and the lid is, so we feel this decision is more sustainable and more socially responsible. Starbucks is finally drawing a line in the sand and creating a mold for other large brands to follow. We are raising the water line for what’s acceptable and inspiring our peers to follow suit."
Colleen Chapman, Vice President of Starbucks Global Social Impact Overseeing Sustainability, said: "This move is an answer to our own partners about what we can do to reduce the need for straws. Not using a straw is the best thing we can do for the environment.”
Nicholas Mallos, Director of Ocean Conservancy's Trash Free Seas program, added: "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. With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we cannot afford to let industry sit on the sidelines."