High street coffee behemoth Starbucks has announced it is phasing out plastic straws across the world – that's more than 28,000 branches – by 2020. That'll cut usage by over a billion straws every year, the brand says.
Apparently it's not just a case of switching out plastic straws for biodegradable ones either (although Starbucks is currently testing paper straws in its UK cafes); engineer Emily Alexander spent weeks developing a new recyclable plastic lid for cold drinks that doesn't need a straw at all.
"I am really excited to have developed something that can be part of this big transformation of going strawless," she says in a statement from Starbucks. "It was this very small thing and now it is so much bigger and more impactful."
Chris Milne, director of packaging sourcing for Starbucks, adds: "By nature, the straw isn't recyclable and the lid is, so we feel this decision is more sustainable and more socially responsible. Starbucks is finally drawing a line in the sand and creating a mould for other large brands to follow. We are raising the water line for what's acceptable and inspiring our peers to follow suit."
The coffee chain is also 'experimenting' with a 5p charge for a paper cup in its London branches with plans to roll out the levy to 950 branches in the UK later this month.