Starbucks will eliminate plastic straws from its stores globally by 2020, in a nod to the growing push for businesses to be more environmentally friendly.
The Seattle-based company said on Monday it will instead use straws made from other materials, and lids designed not to need straws.
McDonald’s also recently said it would switch to paper straws in the UK and Ireland by next year, and test alternatives to plastic straws in some US locations. In February, Dunkin’ Donuts said that it would eliminate polystyrene foam cups from its stores by 2020.
Environmental activists have been pressuring businesses to ditch plastic straws because they can end up in the ocean and hurt marine life. The push gained traction after a viral video in 2015 showed rescuers removing a straw from a sea turtle’s nose in graphic detail.
Local governments have also been looking at the issue. Last week, Seattle’s ban on single-use plastic straws and utensils in food service outlets took effect, and Starbucks says it already offers alternative straws there. Similar proposals are being considered elsewhere, including New York and San Francisco.
While straws have become a high-profile issue, they make up only about 4% of the plastic trash by number of pieces, and far less by weight. Straws add up to only about 2,000 tons of the nearly 9m tons of plastic waste that hits waters each year.
Still, those who support limiting plastic straws say they are generally unnecessary and a ban is good symbol.
The strawless lids will begin to appear in Seattle and Vancouver Starbucks this fall, with phased rollouts within the US and Canada to follow next year.