Starbucks, citing ocean threat, is ditching plastic straws from all locations

Starbucks - which has more than 28,000 stores and generated $22.4 billion in annual revenue past year - is the largest retailer to commit to eliminating single-use plastic straws.

Starbucks said cold beverages in which a straw is typically included make up 50% of the drinks its sells, up from just 37% five years ago. And it's a part of Starbucks' $10 million investment in creating recyclable and compostable cups around the world.

Frappuccino drinks will still be served with dome lids, but with straws made from paper or compostable plastic.

Starbucks said that it will begin using the strawless alternatives in Seattle and Vancouver stores by this fall, and expand to the US and Canada, followed by other global locations, in fiscal year 2019.

"This is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways", Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive of Starbucks, said in a statement.

Plastic straws contribute to ocean pollution and pose a danger to marine life.

Still, those who support limiting plastic straws say they are generally unnecessary and a ban is symbolically important.

The announcement from McDonald's followed an April proposal by the United Kingdom government to ban plastic straws in the country.

The company says the move when fully implemented could mean a billion fewer plastic straws across its stores each year.

Local governments have also been looking at the issue. Starbucks's hometown of Seattle, for example, banned plastic straws and utensils beginning this month, while the California cities of Davis and San Luis Obispo prohibit restaurants from handing out plastic straws unless a customer requests one. "We hope others will follow in [Starbucks'] footsteps". Straws add up to only about 2,000 tons of the almost 9m tons of plastic waste that hits waters each year.

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