For Starbucks Corp., the year 2020 will be the final straw.
The company said Monday it plans to eliminate single-use plastic straws from its more than 28,000 coffeehouses globally by the end of the decade. Exchanging them for alternative-material ones and recyclable strawless lids will allow the coffee giant to remove more than 1 billion plastic straws from its locations per year, it said.
The move comes as plastic waste has come under fire globally, particularly for contributing to ocean pollution and harming birds and sea mammals. Last month, a group of 25 investors managing more than US$1 trillion in assets demanded that companies including Nestle SA and PepsiCo Inc. reduce their use of plastic packaging.
A proposal asking Starbucks to issue a report on its global plastic footprint was rejected at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in March. Still, the push for corporate sustainability has been gaining traction, especially as governments around the globe plan to legislate the issue themselves. The European Union proposed a ban on plastic straws in May, and the Indian government has pledged to ban single-use plastic by 2022.
McDonald’s Corp. said in June it will start rolling out paper straws in the UK and Ireland, with plans to phase out the plastic variety in all 1,361 locations there in 2019.
Starbucks says it’s the largest food and beverage retailer to make a commitment to end plastic-straw use. Cold beverages -- generally consumed with a straw -- today make up more than half of Starbucks’ beverage sales, compared to 37 percent five years ago.
The coffee chain already uses its strawless lids in 8,000 North American stores for drinks like its draft nitro and cold foam beverages. They are being tested for some beverages in other markets including China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, according to the company.
Starbucks will launch two new cold offerings in the US and Canada on Tuesday that use the lids, including a salted cream cold foam cold brew, Starbucks spokeswoman Haley Drage said in an email.