Plastic pollution from single-use products is a major concern. The United Nations’ Environment Program estimates as many as eight million tons of disposable plastic products end up in the oceans each year, where it ultimately harms aquatic ecosystems.
Related: This British café is serving to-go coffee in ceramic mugs to combat waste
To reduce its overall reliance on plastics, the coffee giant is introducing strawless lids for the majority of its beverages — including cold coffee drinks. For its blended offerings, the company will move to paper or compostable plastic straws.
The new lids were approved for global distribution after testing in 8,000 North American stores, as well as select Asian countries. Starbucks’ home stores in Seattle and Vancouver will be the first to fully transition to the lids starting in the second half of 2018, followed by transitioning in Europe. Its goal is to completely remove the single-use plastic items over the next two years.
“For our partners and customers, this is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee,” Kevin Johnson, Starbucks president and CEO, said in a statement,“served to our customers in more sustainable ways.”
The change to drinkable lids and straws made out of paper or biodegradable plastic is part of a larger goal set for the company. Starbucks is also expanding a paper cup surcharge to 950 stores in the United Kingdom by the end of July 2018 to discourage their use, while offering discounts to those who bring in reusable cups. In addition, the company wants to include 20 percent post-consumer recycled fiber in its cups by 2022 and have achieved 99 percent ethical sourcing of its coffee.
However, government reports suggest the coffee industry has a long way to go before going completely green. The British parliament discovered the coffee industry adds 2.5 billion disposable cups to the nation’s landfills annually.