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Starbucks to phase out plastic straws by 2020

Cold beverages will be served with newly designed lids.
Starbucks

Starbucks plans to eliminate plastic straws from its more than 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020, the coffee company announced Monday.

A recyclable lid with a thumbprint-shaped, indented opening—currently used for nitro coffee and cold foam beverages—will become the standard lid for all iced drinks except the Frappuccino. Starbucks’ popular line of frozen drinks will still be served with a straw, but one made from paper or a compostable version made from fermented plant starch.

Customers who prefer or need a straw can request a biodegradable one, the company said.

“By nature, the straw isn’t recyclable and the lid is, so we feel this decision is more sustainable and more socially responsible,” said Chris Milne, director of packaging sourcing for Starbucks, in a statement. “Starbucks is finally drawing a line in the sand and creating a mold for other large brands to follow. We are raising the water line for what’s acceptable and inspiring our peers to follow suit.”

Cold beverages now account for more than half of all drinks sold at Starbucks, up from just 37% of sales five years ago, according to the company.

Starbucks’ move to go straw-free, one adopted by a growing number of restaurants around the world, comes in response to requests from employees and customers.

Starbucks recently announced it was putting up $10 million in the NextGen Cup Challenge, to encourage designers to develop a fully recyclable and compostable hot beverage cup.

Some cities, including Seattle, have recently banned plastic straws. While operators from independents to small chains and the largest brands have announced plans to do away with single-use plastic straws.

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