Coffeehouse chain Starbucks has announced it will eliminate the use of plastic straws in its stores worldwide by 2020. In an effort to move toward more sustainable practices, Starbucks estimates more than 1 billion plastic straws will be removed per year from more than 28,000 stores. The recyclable, strawless lid made with polypropylene—designed by Starbucks Global Research & Development engineer Emily Alexander—was initially created to showcase the foam in the Draft Nitro and Cold Foam drinks, but will now replace straws from all iced drinks with the exception of Frappuccinos. Customers who desire straws can ask for a paper straw or PLA compostable plastic made from fermented plant starch. “I am really excited to have developed something that can be part of this big transformation of going strawless,” Alexander said. “It was this very small thing, and now it is so much bigger and more impactful.” Stores in Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, will be the first to use the recyclable lids, with other locations following suit by 2020. Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Ghent in Belgium found those who eat ocean life consume 11,000 pieces of microplastic per capita annually due to the growing number of ocean trash. In 2016, the World Wildlife Fund issued a warning that predicted that fish would be extinct by 2048 if current plastic pollution and fish consumption practices continue.
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