Starbucks Ditches Straws in All Stores to Combat Plastic Pollution

starbucks iced drink

The world’s largest coffeehouse chain, Starbucks, is ditching plastic straws in a bid to become more sustainable.

The decision is highly impactful; the company has more than 28,000 locations across the world and the move to eliminate straws will result in more than one billion fewer straws being produced every year.

Replacing the item is an innovative new lid design by Starbucks’ Global Research & Development engineer Emily Alexander. The lid features a teardrop-shaped opening that is roughly the size of a thumbprint. It is “a cleaner, less-ridged version of a hot cup lid,” the company said in a statement.

The lid was first created in 2016 after 10 weeks of brainstorming and experimentation. Initially, the design was to be used for Starbucks Draft Nitro beverages in just one store. In time, the cold-cup lids were rolled out into more than 8,000 stores across Canada and the U.S. and used for a handful of drinks, including Draft Nitro and Cold Foam drinks.

In order to become more sustainable than ever, Starbucks will implement the lids for iced drinks across all of its stores. The only cold beverage that will not use the lid is the Frappuccino, which will instead be served with a straw made from paper or PLA compostable plastic. Customers who prefer or require a straw can request one made from the new sustainable material.

Alexander said in a statement: “I am really excited to have developed something that can be part of this big transformation of going strawless.” She added, “It was this very small thing and now it is so much bigger and more impactful.”

Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program, said: “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,” he continued.

The new lid is made from polypropylene plastic that can be widely recycled. “By nature, the straw isn’t recyclable and the lid is, so we feel this decision is more sustainable and more socially responsible,” said Starbucks’ director of packaging sourcing Chris Milne. He added that the company hopes its decision will motivate other businesses to get involved and make similar efforts towards conservation.

As well as the lid innovation, Starbucks has invested $10 million to conjure the design of a fully recyclable and compostable hot cup. The business also urges customers to bring their own tumbler from home to reduce waste. The initiative includes a price deduction for those who bring their own cup.

Image Credit: Starbucks