Starbucks joins McDonald’s, IKEA, Seattle and Vancouver in banning plastic straws

Faced with paper or plastic, more and more companies and their customers say “Paper”.

Starbucks SBUX,
-0.03%
is the latest company to ban the use of plastic straws. It will replace them with alternative materials or strawless lids from more than 28,000 stores by 2020, the coffee giant said on Monday. “For our partners and customers, this is an important step in realizing our global aspiration for sustainable coffee, served to our customers in a more sustainable way,” said Managing Director Kevin Johnson.

This green trend has gained momentum in recent months. Seattle city banned single-use plastic straws and utensils for all of its 5,000 restaurants, as of July 1. Customers who specifically request straws will receive compostable straws. It is believed to be the first city to take this step.

“This applies to all foodservice businesses, including restaurants, grocery stores, delis, cafes, food trucks and institutional cafeterias,” according to a statement from the office of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.

Small towns in the United States, including Malibu, Davis and San Luis Obispo, Calif., Seattle and Miami Beach, and Fort Myers, Florida, have all banned or restricted plastic straws. Eating establishments have turned to paper, bamboo, metal and even glass to replace plastic straws.

Seattle’s Canadian neighbor, Vancouver will ban plastic straws Next year. Scotland is also planning to end the use of plastic straws to help stop marine pollution. And Taiwan is also considering ban plastic straws by 2030.

Other companies and cities have also discussed similar measures.

Royal Caribbean RCL cruise company,
+ 2.87%
announced in June that it will stop using plastic straws by the end of 2018. Customers requesting a paper straw will get a paper straw starting in 2019. Furniture maker IKEA made a similar announcement this past week : eliminate all single-use plastic products of its stores and in-store restaurants by 2020.

The retailer said it wants to be more “climate positive” and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reduce its “footprint” on Earth.

The demand for more paper straws also came from customers. An online petition titled “Starbucks, stop using plastic straws», Collected nearly 139,000 signatures. In April, Starbucks SBUX removed all plastic straws from its UK locations. The UK government said it would ban the use of plastic straws in restaurants by the end of this year.

New York lawmaker proposes similar ban on plastic straws

Plastic – and plastic straws in particular – have been in the news in recent months. New York City Council member Rafael Espinal introduced a bill in May to ban restaurants and bars from giving customers single-use plastic straws. The only exception would be for customers who require plastic straws due to a disability or medical condition.

The penalty for breaking the law would be $ 100, Espinal proposed. If the bill becomes law, the city will only start charging these fines after a two-year grace period. “It’s no secret that we have a plastic problem,” he said. “Every day millions of plastic straws are used and thrown away. With so many options available, from paper straws to metal straws, we can make plastic a thing of the past. “

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Espinal, a Democrat who represents parts of Brooklyn, announced the proposal alongside conservationists including the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Sierra Club and Oceanic Global. An estimated 100,000 sea creatures and 1 million seabirds die each year from a plastic entanglement, Espinal said.

Espinal’s bill will first need the backing of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio if it is to go to city council for a vote.

“Whether you are in Coney Island or in Fiji, single-use plastic straws are a bane to the world’s oceans,” said John Calvelli, executive vice president of public affairs for the Wildlife Conservation Society. Whales, albatrosses and sea turtles can all be injured by plastic, he said.

The proposed straw ban has the backing of members of the restaurant industry, including chef Tom Colicchio, owner of Crafted Hospitality Group, and Ann Redding, owner of Thai restaurant Uncle Boons in New York City. Indeed, some restaurants have already started to switch to paper straws. Colicchio said his group is eliminating plastic straws from its full-service New York restaurants.

McDonald’s is phasing out non-environmentally friendly packaging

This is not the first effort to make restaurant food more environmentally friendly. McDonald’s MCD,
+ 0.67%
announced in January that by 2025, it will manufacture 100% of its packaging for its customers’ food from “renewable, recycled or certified sources” with the aim of reducing waste. “Certified sources” refer to materials that come from natural sources, where no deforestation occurs.

The United States has one of the lowest recycling rates of all developed countries, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based nonprofit.

Food waste and packaging are particularly problematic. Foods, plus packaging – some, but not all, of which are used to contain food – accounts for approximately 45% of all waste in U.S. landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And it all adds up: Americans throw away an estimated $ 165 billion in food each year, according to the NRDC.

About Edward Fries

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