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Starbucks announces plan to eliminate plastic straws by 2020

Starbucks announces plan to eliminate plastic straws by 2020

Starbucks' new iced coffee and tea beverages are displayed during a promotion July 2, 2003 outside a Starbucks coffee shop at Dupont Circle in Washington, DC.

Starbucks has announced it is eliminating plastic straws from its stores worldwide over the next two years, an environmental measure that it said will remove more than a billion plastic straws annually from its stores. Plastic straws have become a flashpoint.

Viral videos - including one depicting researchers extracting a plastic straw from a sea turtle's bleeding nostril - is prompting some companies and municipalities to find ocean-friendlier alternatives.

Straws made with alternative materials like paper and compostable plastic will be provided with Frappuccinos, as well as upon request by customers. Plastic straws never completely decompose and can be harmful, even fatal, to animals that ingest them.

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

In the United States, local governments are already putting similar restrictions into place. Starbucks announced it plans on removing plastic straws from its 28,000 stores by 2020.

Starbucks will begin rolling out the new lids for all drinks this fall, starting with stores in Vancouver, Canada, and Seattle.

Other cities, like Fort Meyers, have banned plastic straws as well.

"For our partners and customers, this is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways", Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer for Starbucks, said in a statement. Straws add up to about 2,000 tons of the almost 9 million tons of plastic waste that ends up in the water each year.

Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy's Trash Free Seas program, called Starbucks' decision a "shining example" of how companies can help fight ocean pollution.

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