Starbucks Will Stop Distributing Plastic Straws by 2020

The brand says this will eliminate 1 billion plastic straws per year

Starbucks' answer to eliminating plastic straws is a special lid for coffee and tea beverages. Starbucks
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Following news that Seattle would ban restaurants from handing out plastic straws to customers, Starbucks has made a similar announcement today.

The brand aims to stop distributing single-use plastic straws across its 28,000 stores by 2020 in an effort to protect the environment. (Some estimate that at the rate we are going, by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.)

“Plastic straws that end up in our oceans have a devastating effect on species,” Erin Simon, director of sustainability research and development and material science at World Wildlife Fund, U.S., said in a statement. “As we partner with Starbucks in waste reduction initiatives such as NextGen Consortium Cup Challenge and WWF’s Cascading Materials Vision, we hope others will follow in their footsteps.”

Starbucks will replace the single-use straws with a special lid (pictured above) that does not require a straw. Some fans of the chain may recognize the lid, as it’s already being used in over 8,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada. The move will reportedly prevent over 1 billion plastic straws from being used per year.

For those that still want (or need) to use a straw, Starbucks will provide alternatives including straws made from paper and compostable plastic. Of course, there will still be some plastic straws available, by special request, for those who truly need to use them (like those with a disability).

Seattle and Vancouver Starbucks locations will be the first to see the straw-less lids fully implemented in stores, beginning in the fall. Following that, the brand will start, “phased rollouts within the U.S. and Canada,” per the brand’s press release. After that, a global roll out will commence in a number of locations in France, the Netherlands and the U.K.

“For our partners and customers, this is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways,” Kevin Johnson, president and CEO of Starbucks, said in a statement.

Starbucks previously pledged $10 million to design a fully compostable, recyclable cup for hot beverages.

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.