Starbucks Plan To Abandon Plastic Straws Before 2020, But No Perfect Replacement

hen you walk into Starbucks in 2020, you probably can't see the plastic straws.

The coffee giant announced on July 9 that it would eliminate disposable plastic straws from global stores within two years, replaced by straws made of paper or other alternative materials, and a special lid without a straw hole— — Currently used in nitrogen drinks in the United States, Canada, China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

In addition, Starbucks has announced an investment of $10 million to develop beverage cups that can be fully recycled, decomposed and suitable for use around the world.

Drinking cold drinks is usually the most frequent use of straws, while cold drinks account for more than 50% of Starbucks beverage sales. Eliminating the use of plastic straws is equivalent to reducing the consumption of more than 1 billion plastic straws in its nearly 30,000 stores each year.

But Alex Fraser, vice president of operations at The Fifteen Group, a restaurant consultancy, believes that the extra cost of using paper straws can be passed on to consumers.

Laser says plastic straws cost about 1 cent each, and paper straws can increase business costs by 10 to 15 times. Unless there are more and more choices of environmentally friendly products, the cost reduction can be promoted.

Recently, global calls for plastics reduction have become louder and louder, and governments and companies have responded.

A week ago (July 1st), Starbucks originated in Seattle as the first city in the United States to ban the use of plastic straws, cutlery and stir bars. New York and San Francisco also considered follow-up, and offenders would face a $250 fine. Next year, regulations to ban plastic straws and stir bars will also take effect in the UK and Ireland.

At the beginning of this year, the UK also proposed in the next 25 years of environmental protection plans that supermarkets should set up a “no plastic zone” to allow customers to carry their own containers, and all the stores in the country are not allowed to provide plastic bags free of charge. The goal is to completely eliminate them before 2042. Plastic garbage.

In February, Taiwan also announced that it would ban the use of plastic straws in stores in 2019.

For food companies, Dunkin’ Donuts announced in February that it would phase out all polystyrene (commonly known as styrofoam) beverage cups by 2020. McDonald's plans to switch to paper straws in 1300 stores in the UK and Ireland by the end of the year, and its soda cups will be recycled worldwide or recycled.

This is not an easy task for chain restaurants. They have tens of thousands of stores around the world, serving millions of guests every day, and the cost of completely eliminating plastic products is high.

At the investor meeting in April this year, McDonald's shareholders voted against the proposal to “disable plastic straws” at McDonald's in the United States.

The board said that the resources spent on adopting the proposal would affect other environmental actions promised by McDonald's, and they are looking for alternatives to plastic straws that are both cost and practical.

Part of the opposition to the banned voice believes that it is more important to find alternatives.

At present, the most popular paper straws are generally not strong enough to be easily broken. There is an Aardvark straw straw on the market that produces FDA food grade standards that are biodegradable, but are expensive and are more than a dozen times larger than regular straws.

In the past two years, many Taiwanese merchants have started to promote stainless steel straws or glass straws, but the former is hard and the latter is easy to break, which is not suitable for young children.

At the same time, some patients who suffer from neuromuscular damage or eating for other reasons also need plastic straws to help them eat. The complete ban on plastic straws may make their lives more inconvenient.