Tue | Oct 16, 2018

Starbucks is ditching plastic straws, cite ocean threat

Published:Monday | July 9, 2018 | 2:18 PM
FILE - This March 24, 2018, file photo shows a sign in a Starbucks in downtown Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks will eliminate plastic straws from all of its locations within two years, the coffee chain announced Monday, becoming the largest food and beverage company to do so as calls for businesses and cities to cut waste grow louder.

While the straws account for a small percentage of the pollution that ends up in the ocean, they’ve become a flashpoint because they’re seen as an easy way to reduce waste.

“There are several of these single-use items the public is realising, hey, 'we don’t actually need these',” said Denise Hardesty, a scientist with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation who studies plastic pollution.

A week after its hometown of Seattle banned plastic drinking straws and utensils, Starbucks said Monday that by 2020, it will use straws made from biodegradable materials such as paper and specially designed lids.

The company already offers alternative straws in Seattle.

Other cities, like Fort Myers Beach in Florida, have banned plastic straws, and similar proposals are being considered in New York and San Francisco.

The push to ban the straws gained traction after a viral video in 2015 showed rescuers removing a straw from a sea turtle’s nose in graphic detail.

The issue of waste more broadly is coming up in company boardrooms.

In February, Dunkin’ Donuts said it would eliminate polystyrene foam cups from its stores by 2020.

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