Starbucks to stop using plastic straws by 2020

Plastics and other debris line an estuary in Kentucky

The coffee giant announced Monday it will begin to phase out plastic straws from all of its stores, with a plan to scrap them completely by 2020.

The design was created by R&D engineer Emily Alexander, who was asked in 2016 to create a new straw-less lid that would showcase the Draft Nitro coffee and cold foam served at a Reserve store in Seattle. It's a plastic strawless lid that will come to replace single-use plastic straws that now inundate its coffee shops.

"This move is an answer to our own partners about what we can do to reduce the need for straws", said Colleen Chapman, vice president of Starbucks global social impact overseeing sustainability.

For some Starbucks drinkers, the companys new strawless lid may look familiar. Starbucks's hometown of Seattle, for example, banned plastic straws and utensils beginning this month, while the California cities of Davis and San Luis Obispo prohibit restaurants from handing out plastic straws unless a customer requests one.

McDonald's also recently said it would switch to paper straws in the United Kingdom and Ireland by next year, and test alternatives to plastic straws in some U.S. locations. Plastic straws have become a flashpoint.

The UK government said that 1 million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals die each year from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste. Malibu, Calif., Miami Beach, Fla., and Monmouth Beach, N.J., also prohibit single-use sippers.

And the city of Vancouver will become the first Canadian city to ban plastic drinking straws, along with Styrofoam cups and take-out containers, when the new rule takes effect next summer. The transition will be complete in 2019, the company said.

Starting Tuesday July 10, Starbucks will also add two new permanent additions to its cold coffee menu in the US and Canada: Salted Cream Cold Foam Cold Brew, featuring a strawless lid; and Iced Vanilla Bean Coconutmilk Latte, which consists of vanilla bean and coconutmilk shaken with ice, with shots of Starbucks signature espresso poured on top.

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