Plastic straws are used by millions around the country and the globe on a daily basis, but many don’t understand the negative impact they have on the environment. Plastic straws pollute our ecosystem and are non-degradable, harming marine life and ruining habitats.
Seattle Becomes First US City to Introduce Ban:
Last week, the first major US city, Seattle, announced that the use of plastic straws and utensils will be banned due to their harmful effects. Every food vendor will now be forced to solely use reusable or compostable straws and utensils. One of the alternatives is to convert from plastic to paper, although the city is encouraging straws to be scrapped altogether.
“Plastic pollution is surpassing crisis levels in the world’s oceans, and I’m proud Seattle is leading the way and setting an example for the nation by enacting a plastic straw ban,” said Seattle Public Utilities General Manager Mami Hara in a recent statement on this new restriction,
Just last fall, the “Strawless in Seattle” campaign was launched to prevent the use of straws, voluntarily involving over one-hundred businesses. This helped remove about 2.3 million single-use straws in the city.
Restaurants and other businesses have been told to end their use of straws and plastic utensils as soon as possible and switch to different alternatives. The city of Seattle is working with those businesses that are still looking for alternatives to their plastic products, otherwise a $250 fine will be given to any businesses who don’t comply to this new enactment.
This isn’t the only city that is working to reduce their carbon footprint. Cities like New York and San Fransisco are also looking into a similar system to introduce in the coming years while smaller cities, such as Malibu and San Luis Obispo in California, have already banned the use of single-use straws.
Starbucks to Restrict Straws by 2020:
The largest coffee company in the world, Starbucks, announced Monday morning that they will ban the use of single-use plastic straws across all of their greater-than-28,000 stores by the year of 2020.
In Starbucks’ press release, Erin Simon, director of sustainability research & development and material science at World Wildlife Fund said. “Starbucks goal to eliminate plastic straws by 2020 from their stores globally represents the company’s forward thinking in tackling the material waste challenge in totality. Plastic straws that end up in our oceans have a devastating effect on species. As we partner with Starbucks in waste reduction initiatives such as Next Gen Consortium Cup Challenge and WWF’s Cascading Materials Vision, we hope others will follow in their footsteps.”
So what will replace the straws? Starbucks will begin implementing strawless lids to its Seattle and Vancouver stores beginning this fall for all of their beverages followed by phased rollouts in all of the US and Canada in 2019. You can also request a paper or compostable plastic straw if need-be.