Starbucks is bidding farewell to straws ... for the most part.
The Seattle-based coffee chain announced back in July 2018 that it would commit to banning plastic straws worldwide by 2020, and two years later, the company is making good on its promise.
On Thursday, Starbucks said in a press release that strawless, sippy cup-style lids will now be standard for iced beverages at stores across the U.S. and Canada, replacing plastic straws that typically cannot be recycled.
The clear lids are made of polypropylene, another type of plastic that can be recycled. The coffee chain claims the lightweight lid, which was modeled after hot beverage lids, was designed to use about 9% less plastic than previous flat plastic lids and straws combined.
“Recyclable, strawless lids for customers across the U.S. and Canada is another step in our journey to reduce our environmental footprint,” said Starbucks' chief sustainability officer Michael Kobori, in a statement.
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Andy Corlett, director of global packaging solutions and innovations at Starbucks, added, “A recyclable, strawless lid becoming the standard for iced drinks is one small way we can give more than we take from the planet. This is a significant moment for Starbucks as we work to reduce waste and safeguard the environment.”
Customers can expect strawless lids on all iced coffee, tea, espresso and Refreshers drinks. For drinks like Frappuccinos with plastic dome-shaped lids, Starbucks will continue to provide straws unless prohibited by local law.
Last year, Starbucks expanded their market test of strawless lids, introducing them to stores in seven additional cities, including Los Angeles, Seattle, Indianapolis and Washington, D.C.
Plastic straw prohibition has been heralded as a move toward a more sustainable future, beneficial to both people and animals, but it has also drawn criticism for its negative impact on people with disabilities. Some say straws are life-changing and inclusive of people who rely on straws to drink beverages. Starbucks maintains that straws will still be available to any customer who requests one.
The coffee company has previously announced other initiatives aimed at improving the company's sustainability footprint. These included a contest that would find an "innovative cup solution" for America's daily coffee habit. In early March, Starbucks also revealed it would test a biodegradable hot coffee cup that can be recycled. But, around the same time, the coffee giant also announced that it would suspend its reusable cup program due to coronavirus concerns.
Other companies have also announced bans on certain types of plastic products. McDonald's in the U.K. and Ireland said it would remove plastic straws in all of its stores by the end of last year. IKEA pledged to cut all single-use plastic items like straws and plates, both for sale in stores and in its restaurants, by this year. Kroger, the largest U.S. grocery chain, said it would phase out single-use plastic grocery bags by 2025.
Starbucks anticipates the national rollout of strawless lids to company-operated and licensed Starbucks stores to be completed by the end of September, catching up to other markets in countries like China, Japan, South Korea and Thailand.