Starbucks - which has more than 28,000 stores and generated $22.4 billion in annual revenue a year ago - is the largest retailer to commit to eliminating single-use plastic straws. Last week, Seattle became the latest city to ban plastic utensils and straws.
By the fall, all cold coffee beverages in Seattle and Vancouver will be served with the same strawless lid now offered for the cold brew drinks. "Metal straws can be unsafe for people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson's whereas reusable plastic straws present hygiene concerns to people with specific health conditions". Plastic straws never completely decompose and can be harmful, even fatal, to animals that ingest them.
A number of restaurants and private establishments also have taken measures to curb their use of plastic straws.
For customers who prefer to have or need a straw, Starbucks said straws made of paper or compostable plastic will be available upon request - for their Frappuccino blended beverages.
To comply with the July 1 plastic straw ban, Starbucks stores in Seattle are offering customers new compostable straws, splash sticks and cutlery. Oakland and Berkeley, California, and other cities have also banned the use of disposable straws.
"With 8 million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we can not afford to let industry sit on the sidelines, and we are grateful for Starbucks leadership in this space", Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancys Trash Free Seas program, said in the release. "We hope others will follow in [Starbucks'] footsteps".
This announcement makes Starbucks the largest food and beverage retailer to commit to such a global commitment, and the plan will eliminate more than 1 billion plastic straws a year.
"With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we can not afford to let industry sit on the sidelines", he said in a statement.