Plastic straws are rarely recycled and over one billion of these end up in landfills and oceans. They take about 200 years to decompose, thus ending up ingested by marine life, damaging their ecosystem and in our seafood. To remain committed to their efforts as an eco-friendly company, coffee giant Starbucks announced last Monday that they would eliminate the straws out of all 28,000 Starbucks stores by 2020. The company’s straws are recyclable but given their weight and dimensions, they are easily sorted out of the process. As a result, Starbucks has decided on a fully recyclable alternative to the plastic straws: an adult sippy cup lid, and while some of their beverages will continue to have straws, these will be made out either of paper or compostable plastic.
Will this really help the environment?
It is estimated that 175 million straws are used and then thrown away every day, however, this figure represents only an estimated 0.03% of the total plastic waste. It is well known that plastic products harming marine life are not only doing so by the ingestion of the material but by the release of the BPA (a toxic carcinogenic chemical that leads to hormone complications) from the plastic itself.
While eliminating plastic straws around the globe doesn’t solve the mayor plastic problem, it’s considered by many environmentalists to be a jump-start for eradicating the use of other single-use plastics. With the main goal being to raise awareness, many celebrities, cities and major companies have joined the cause.