Starbucks has said that by 2020 it will eliminate plastic straws from its stores as a step towards the reduction of environmental plastic pollution.

Colleen Chapman, vice-president of Starbucks’ global social impact, said: “Not using a straw is the best thing we can do for the environment.” There is certainly more that can be done, but this is a start.

It is estimated that Starbucks use 1bn straws each year, an enormous number, which ultimately greatly contributes to plastic pollution. Following the ban, customers will be given plastic lids designed for use without a straw or with non-plastic straws.

Nicholas Mallos, of the Ocean Conservancy, said the ban was “a shining example of the important role that companies can play in stemming the tide of ocean plastic”.

Consumers have taken to Twitter to praise the company for its decision.

One Twitter, @CaityLotz said: I hope to see more companies exploring ways to reduce the destruction of the environment. @Starbucks nice work now please use more sustainable cups.

With @WHALES_org saying: Great news from a powerful global player! @Starbucks citing the environmental threat to oceans, will ban plastic straws! It’s a first step for positive change and we hope to see more soon! #NOTWHALEFOOD

However, other Twitter users have expressed complaints, as it appears the company has just shifted the use of plastic, from straws to lids. The company responded by saying:

Unlike cups or lids, recycling straws just isn’t possible because of their weight and size, despite the very best intentions.’

We will still offer a straw option in stores, made of an alternative material such as paper or compostable plastic. Customers will be able to request this straw if they prefer or need one, and it will come standard with Frappuccino blended beverages.’

An estimated 10 million tonnes of this plastic currently ends up in the oceans every year, so it is vital that more companies start to change their use of plastic in their products.

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