Starbucks Ditches Plastic Straws to Save Oceans, Ends Up Using Even More Plastic

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Last week, Starbucks announced that it would be abandoning the use of plastic straws, an announcement greeted with gushing praise.

The action was “an Environmental Milestone,” The New Republic proclaimed.

In its own press release, Starbucks quoted Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program, as calling its action “a shining example of the important role that companies can play in stemming the tide of ocean plastic.”

Then came Christian Britschgi, writing at Reason, to take a slightly different perspective.

Deciding to use facts, he did an experiment to test the amount of plastic currently used, and the amount that will be used in the new straw-free lids Starbucks is phasing in.

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He wrote that when customers buy a cold drink at Starbucks, they currently get “either 3.23 grams or 3.55 grams of plastic product, depending on whether they pair their lid with a small or large straw.”

And the new lids?  They “weigh either 3.55 or 4.11 grams, depending again on lid size,” Britschgi wrote.

His bottom line? Eliminating plastic straws puts more plastic into the waste stream, where it may well make it to the landfill or the ocean.

Starbucks sees things differently and argues that more is actually less.

Is Starbucks just trying to get attention with this new action?

“The strawless lid is made from polypropylene, a commonly-accepted recyclable plastic that can be captured in recycling infrastructure, unlike straws which are too small and lightweight to be captured in modern recycling equipment,” Starbucks said in a statement when asked by Britain’s The Daily Mail about Britschgi’s experiment.

Britschgi shrugged that response aside, noting that not all recyclable products are actually recycled and saying that “the new lids (being) recyclable has little bearing on how many will end up in the world’s oceans and waterways.”

Some thought Starbucks was simply being absurd in announcing its ban on plastic straws.

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There is also the question of individuals with disabilities who require straws, and what happens to them in a straw-free world.

“… what if you decide on the spur of the moment to go have a drink with friends after work but forgot your reusable straw that day?” said Lawrence Carter-Long, communications director for the national Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, according to National Public Radio.

“(That) doesn’t leave a lot of room for spontaneity — something nondisabled folks get to largely take for granted.”

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Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack can be reached at jackwritings1@gmail.com.
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