Engineers successfully developed a "cleaner, less-ridged version of a hot cup lid", and decided to make it the standard for all iced drinks except the Frappuccino, totally phasing out straws by the year 2020. The strawless lid for Starbucks's iced beverages is not unlike the standard hot coffee cup lid caffeine drinkers are already familiar with. "Starbucks taught the world how to drink coffee, and I believe that this commitment will help teach the world how to embrace sustainable business practices - starting with the plastic straw", said Grenier.
In the United Kingdom, the company has also placed taxes on paper cups, and worldwide, Starbucks offers a discount for customers who use reusable cups.
Other cities, including Fort Myers Beach, Fla., have banned plastic straws, and similar proposals are being considered in NY and San Francisco. Straws are lower-hanging fruit in the battle against plastic, but hopefully it provides the motivation Starbucks needs to keep fighting in all the ways that count.
According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, over 500,000,000 plastic straws are used each day in the USA alone.
Starbucks' decision to stop using the straws follows last week's news that its founding city, Seattle, banned the use of all plastic straws and utensils in bars and restaurants in a push to reduce waste and prevent marine plastic pollution.
For many able-bodied people, a plastic straw is a simple convenience that can be discarded with every empty cup into the bin. Some governments have begun banning them.
Straws made of alternative materials will still be available to customers on request. Right out of the gate, the bar and concert venue chose to offer paper straws instead of plastic ones.
"The damage to the environment is unimaginable", she said.
"It just kind of hit us", Iafelice said. "If you can go without, that's great".
The world's largest coffeehouse chain, Starbucks, is ditching plastic straws in a bid to become more sustainable.
The chain joins a growing number of companies, making similar pledges, including Alaska Airlines, hotel chains Hilton and AccorHotels, cruise lines Royal Caribbean and Cunard and food-service giant Bon Appétit Management, whose 1,000-plus locations in 33 states include universities and museums.