Starbucks to ban plastic straws within two years

A Starbucks employee hands out coffee samples in Target in downtown Portland on Nov. 24 2017

In a move meant to cut back on waste, the global coffee giant said Monday that it would eliminate plastic straws from its more than 28,000 locations globally by 2020.

For some Starbucks drinkers, the companys new strawless lid may look familiar.

Starbucks said that it is the largest food and beverage retailer to have promised to get rid of plastic straws.

"Starbucks ('s) 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", said Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy's Trash Free Seas program. Plastic straws never completely decompose and can be harmful, even fatal, to animals that ingest them.

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In the United States, local governments are already putting similar restrictions into place.

According to a release, Starbucks said the lid is now available in more than 8,000 stores in the USA and Canada for select beverages, including Draft Nitro and Cold Foam. Walt Disney World has banned plastic straws at some of its theme parks, while the Smithsonian Institution has taken steps to eliminate them from its museums. The Seattle-based carrier, which said it handed out 22 million stir straws and citrus picks past year, also said it would have non-plastic, marine-friendly drinking straws for travelers that request them. On July 1, Seattle became the first USA city to ban plastic straws, spoons, forks and knives. In May, the European Union also suggested a ban on some plastic items, including straws. Oakland and Berkeley, California, and other cities have also banned the use of disposable straws. Straws add up to about 2,000 tons of the almost 9 million tons of plastic waste that ends up in waters around the globe each year.

"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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