Starbucks Stops Using Plastic Straws but Uses More Plastic!

Plastic straws are the new Styrofoam cups and the hysteria against them leads to some funny outcomes.

Starbucks has made customers drink hot coffee from paper cups for years, and now they’ve moved on to cold drinks by banning plastic straws.

Starbucks is free to make stupid, financial decisions. After the “anyone can stay here and use our bathrooms” decision, there is certainly no reason to expect anything else. But the fact that their new policy will be used as a justification for more local municipal bans on plastic straws is concerning.

Christian Britschgi writes at the Reason Hit & Run blog, “Starbucks Bans Plastic Straws, Winds Up Using More Plastic.”

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In July, Seattle imposed America’s first ban on plastic straws. Vancouver, British Columbia, passed a similar ban a few months earlier. There are active attempts to prohibit straws in New York City, Washington, D.C., Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco. […]

Not to be outdone by busybody legislators, Starbucks, the nation’s largest food and drink retailer, announced on Monday that it would be going strawless.

“This is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways,” said Starbucks Kevin Johnson CEO in a press release announcing the move.

The coffee giant says that by 2020 it hopes to have eliminated all single-use plastic straws at its 28,000 stores worldwide. It will now top all its cold drinks with fancy new strawless lids that the company currently serves with its cold brew nitro coffees. (Frappuccinos will still be served with a compostable or paper straw.)

As is to be expected, Starbucks’ decision was greeted with universal adulation.

The World Wildlife Fund and Ocean Conservancy both provided ebullient quotes for Starbucks’ press releases. Liberal magazine The New Republic praised the move as an “environmental milestone.” Slate hailed the Starbucks straw ban as evidence of as a victory for a bona fide anti-straw movement, one that would hopefully lead to bans of more things plastic in years to come.

Yet missing from this fanfare was the inconvenient fact that by ditching plastic straws, Starbucks will actually be increasing its plastic use. As it turns out, the new nitro lids that Starbucks is leaning on to replace straws are made up of more plastic than the company’s current lid/straw combination.

Right now, Starbucks patrons are topping most of their cold drinks with either 3.23 grams or 3.55 grams of plastic product, depending on whether they pair their lid with a small or large straw. The new nitro lids meanwhile weigh either 3.55 or 4.11 grams, depending again on lid size.

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About the author

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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