Starting with its Seattle and Vancouver locations, Starbucks announced Tuesday it will eliminate single-use plastic straws from all of its stores, giving customers a choice between a strawless lid or an alternative-material straw as an option instead.
The move echoes a trend of companies and cities attempting to move away from single-use plastic straws, which can be detrimental to the environment and take an estimated 450 years to decompose.
In a similar move, the city of St. Petersburg launched a campaign in April called "No Straws St. Pete" to convince businesses and residents to curb their usage of straws. On July 1, Seattle became the first U.S. city to ban plastic straws, spoons, forks and knives.
Starbucks anticipates its move will eliminate more than 1 billion straws per year from its more than 28,000 stores worldwide. In a release, the company stated its stores in Seattle and Vancouver would see the departure of plastic straws first, beginning in the fall. Next up will be the rest of the U.S. in 2019 and, eventually, Europe.
"With 8 million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we cannot afford to let industry sit on the sidelines, and we are grateful for Starbucks leadership in this space," Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program, said in the release.
Though plastic straws won’t immediately be eliminated from Tampa Bay’s Starbucks’ locations, some local businesses have already begun their own environmental friendly initiatives.
Sixteen Tampa Bay businesses have received national Ocean Friendly certification through the coalition by voluntarily banning foam products and plastic bags, only providing straws and to-go utensils upon request, and enforcing recycling programs.
For some Starbucks drinkers, the company’s new strawless lid may look familiar. According to a release, Starbucks said the lid is currently available in more than 8,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada for select beverages, including Draft Nitro and Cold Foam.
For users who still want their drinks with a straw, the company said paper or biodegradable plastic will be available by request.
"For our partners and customers, this is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways," said Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer for Starbucks.