Business

The last straw: Starbucks will ban straws in all stores by 2020

While you are sipping on your caramel macchiato from Starbucks on your way to class, you’re most likely not thinking about the negative repercussions that the iconic green straw is having on the environment.

Starbucks is rolling out a plan to eliminate these straws from all its stores by the year 2020. The world’s trendiest coffee company plans to replace the plastic straws with a specially designed sipping lid.

The company stated that “unlike straws which are too small and lightweight to be captured in modern recycling equipment the straw-less lid is made from polypropylene, a commonly-accepted recyclable plastic that can be captured in recycling infrastructure.”

This environmental protection effort is supposed to help reduce waste and prevent over 1 billion plastic straws from polluting the earth.

While Starbucks is being praised for its efforts to reduce waste and protect marine animals, consumers are unhappy and business experts believe that this is a meaningless public
relations stunt.

The “anti-straw movement” has recently gained a lot of traction after a video of rescuers removing plastic straws from the noses of endangered sea turtles circulated on social media.

Starbucks is one of many companies, including Hyatt and Marriott International, that are doing away with straws to help protect these marine animals.

Starbucks has received praise for its anti-straw plan from the Ocean Conservancy, fighting for its Trash Free Seas, program and the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Customers and business experts may or may not be in favor of strawless beverages at Starbucks. customers are criticizing the idea for a number of reasons. Women are livid about strawless cups because they would not be able to sip on their drinks without their lipstick getting all over the lid.

More seriously, customers with disabilities that rely on straws to consume beverages are worried that they will no longer be able to shop at Starbucks.

Starbucks is raising questions as to whether or not this would be an effective straw ban or just a straw man. Not only are some customers skeptical of the idea, but business experts believe that this could just be a public relations stunt that may maximize the profits of the company while not actually helping the environment.

They believe that Starbucks is hopping on the “save the turtles” trend just like they hopped on the “pumpkin-spice” trend as a way to better their image.

Experts are arguing that the majority of plastic waste does not come from the small straws, but rather from the plastic cups with sizes as big as 32 ounces.

People are also questioning how recyclable the alternative strawless lids truly are. While the company claims that all of the lids are going to be made of biodegradable material, the thickness and weight of the lids would still cause a sizeable amount of waste.

One possible solution might be reconfiguring the new lids so that they can support a straw option for customers.

Another solution to the problem, similar to the plastic bag policy of some supermarkets, would be to encourage all customers to bring their own reusable cups to the stores instead for a discount. As it stands however, if enough controversy remains  it will assure that for Starbucks customers this will not be the last straw.

September 20, 2018

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Yaakov Spraragen


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