Starbucks, citing ocean threat, is ditching plastic straws

Starbucks' plan to phase out plastic straws will begin in Vancouver and Seattle

Starbucks said cold beverages in which a straw is typically included make up 50% of the drinks its sells, up from just 37% five years ago.

The company has already designed and developed a strawless lid that it expects to become a standard for its iced coffee, tea and espresso beverages.

On Monday, the coffee giant became the latest company to denounce single-use plastic straws, revealing plans to ban them entirely from its stores worldwide by 2020.

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The move echoes a trend of companies and cities attempting to move away from single-use plastic straws, which can be detrimental to the environment and take an estimated 450 years to decompose. McDonald's shareholders voted down a proposal requesting a report on plastic straws in May, although it 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 USA locations. Plastic straws never completely decompose and can be harmful, even fatal, to animals that ingest them.

The strawless lid is available in more than 8,000 stores in the USA and Canada for drinks such as nitro cold brew and cold foam cold brew coffee. Starbucks announced it plans on removing plastic straws from its 28,000 stores by 2020.

Starbucks said more markets will follow until the chain meets its goal.

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The announcement comes a week after Seattle, where the coffee house is headquartered, became one of the first high-profile cities in the U.S.to ban straws.

Local government officials across the country are considering banning plastic straws, and some Charlottesville businesses have gotten a head start.

"Plastic straws that end up in our oceans have a devastating effect on species", said Erin Simon, director of sustainability research & development and material science at World Wildlife Fund, US, in a statement.

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