Starbucks Will Stop Using Plastic Straws In Stores By 2020 & Here’s What The Changes Will Mean

It's official: your daily iced coffee will come sans single-use straw in the next few years. Starbucks will stop using plastic straws in its 28,000-plus stores around the world by 2020, the coffee brand tells Bustle via email. The company says it will implement strawless lids as a replacement and, for those who still need or want to use a straw, alternative material straw options made from paper and compostable plastics will still be available for Frappuccinos.

Folks who have been enjoying Starbucks' Nitro and cold foam drinks have likely already encountered the new strawless lids, which have been available in around 8,000 Starbucks stores and are similar to the lids Starbucks uses for hot drinks, but made of clear plastic with a raised, wide mouth (perfect for folks who like to crunch on ice between sips of their Mango Dragonfruit Refresher).

According to Foodbeast, up till now, customers have actually been able to ask for the strawless lid on any cold drink, not just the Nitro and cold foams, but over the next few months, customers will begin to see the strawless lids implemented as the default option for cold drinks.

Other chains have begun experimenting with going strawless, but Starbucks will be "the largest food and beverage retailer to make such a commitment, which will eliminate more than 1 billion plastic straws per year from Starbucks stores," a Starbucks representative tells Bustle in an email. Changes will roll out in Vancouver and Seattle Starbucks locations first, beginning this fall, the representative tells Bustle.

Courtesy of Starbucks

For anyone who may wonder why it's a positive thing for Starbucks to be switching from straws to lids when both are made of plastic, it's because single-use plastic straws are notoriously difficult to recycle. For a Strawless Ocean, an initiative founded and funded on an ongoing basis by the environmental startup Lonely Whale, reported that even when people properly recycle straws, most of those straws "are too lightweight to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter. They drop through sorting screens and mix with other materials and are too small to separate, contaminating recycling loads or getting disposed as garbage."

Then, of course, straws can end up virtually anywhere, including in our oceans. And though the number of plastic straws used by Americans every day may not be as high as the oft-cited 500 million, it's no secret a large amount of plastic straws are not being recycled. Plastic lids like Starbucks', on the other hand, are large enough to successfully make it through the recycling process. So once you're done with your cold drink, pop off the lid, give it a rinse, and it's all ready for your recycling bin.

As for the non-plastic straws Starbucks will offer, made of paper and compostable plastic, customers may already have encountered those, too. The chain also recently rolled out some flavored straws made of paper and coated in crystals of flavoring.

Courtesy of Starbucks

According to For a Strawless Ocean's website, folks who use compostable plastic straws should be very careful where they end up, because while "compostable straws are good in theory, they can be disposed of incorrectly by individuals," and are "no better than regular plastic straws when they get into the marine environment." These straws are "designed to break down in compost facility conditions, not sea water," For a Strawless Ocean added.

Customers who encounter Starbucks' new lids and straws will get to see them used on two new additions to the coffee brand's menu. Beginning July 10, Starbucks locations in Canada and the U.S. will be offering the Salted Cream Cold Foam Cold Brew and the Iced Vanilla Bean Coconutmilk Latte. And yes: these additions are permanent, so no worries about encountering a unicorn frappe-esque rush for your nearest barista. Sip happy, y'all.