It’s time to say goodbye to the iconic green Starbucks straws we’ve all grown accustomed to. Starbucks is going strawless. The international coffee giant announced its plans to eliminate the production of single-use plastic straws globally by the year 2020.
Staying true to its environmental stewardship efforts, Starbucks has designed, developed and manufactured a beverage lid that eradicates any need for a straw. Paper straws will come standard with Frappuccino beverages and will be granted to those customers who request them. The company projects the change will eliminate the use of over 1 billion plastic straws per year from its Starbucks locations.
Plastic straws, which are dumped into oceans, take around 200 years to decompose. Environmentalists have long been fighting for the elimination of them and the recent #StopSucking campaign has gained steam, with celebrities like Adrian Grenier and Ellen Pompeo getting behind the cause.
More than 8,000 Starbucks stores in Canada and America already offer strawless lids for some beverages. Though many seem enthusiastic about the ban, others like Jamie Szymkowiak, aren’t so convinced. As they eloquently point out in the Greenpeace blog, the banning of plastic straws doesn’t solve all problems. In fact, it can create them for those with disabilities:
Disabled people can take longer to drink; therefore, a soggy paper straw increases the risk of choking. Most paper and silicone alternatives are not flexible, and this is an important feature for people with mobility related impairments. Metal, glass and bamboo straws present obvious dangers for people who have difficulty controlling their bite, as well as those with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s. Some disabled people use straws when drinking coffee or eating soup, yet most of the alternatives, including the leading biodegradable straw, are not suitable for drinks over 40°C. In addition, re-useable straws in public places are not always hygienic or easy to clean – would you drink through a straw that’s been passed around the public?
According to Quartz, this fact is not lost on Starbucks, who plans to offer straws of an “alternative material” to customers who require it. Let’s just hope the future involves a solution that aims to help the environment and works for those with disabilities too.