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Starbucks Rolling Out Strawless Lids

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Starbucks is introducing strawless lids to company-operated and licensed stores, which it says will mark a significant milestone in its effort to eliminate 1 billion plastic straws globally per year.

Over the past year, Seattle-based Starbucks has successfully trialed new lightweight, recyclable strawless lids in select markets across the U.S. and Canada. Starbucks said it will continue to shift away from single-use packaging and plastics as part of its resource positive commitment announced in January.

“Recyclable, strawless lids for customers across the U.S. and Canada is another step in our journey to reduce our environmental footprint,” said Michael Kobori, chief sustainability officer at Starbucks, noting the chain is moving closer toward its 2030 target of a 50% reduction in waste sent to landfills.

Starbucks designed, developed and manufactured its strawless lid, which will now be the standard for all iced coffee, tea, espresso and Starbucks Refreshers beverages. The lid was modeled after the lid customers recognize from Starbucks hot drinks and has approximately 9% less plastic than the flat lid and straw historically used for iced beverages. Unlike straws that can’t be recycled because of their size, the strawless lid made from polypropylene, meets the Association of Plastic Recyclers design guidelines for recyclability and can be recycled in many markets in the U.S. and Canada, according to Starbucks.

“We developed and trialed several prototypes to arrive at this milestone,” said Andy Corlett, director of global packaging solutions and innovations, whose team at Starbucks helped design the lid. “A recyclable, strawless lid becoming the standard for iced drinks is one small way we can give more than we take from the planet. This is a significant moment for Starbucks as we work to reduce waste and safeguard the environment.”

Corlett’s team developed variations in lid design to match the variety of beverages Starbucks offers. For example, the distinct lid for Nitro beverages, which began rolling out in 2018, has a slightly wider, tear-drop shaped opening. Similarly, Frappuccino-blended beverages and other drinks with whipped cream will continue to have a domed lid made from recyclable plastic and be accompanied by a straw, except where prohibited by local law. Straws will also remain available in stores for customers upon request.

“Last year alone, volunteers with Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup removed nearly 1 million straws from beaches and waterways around the world, and that’s 1 million too many polluting our environment,” said Doug Cress, vice president of Conservation at Ocean Conservancy. “Starbucks strawless lid is a prime example of how innovation will help us move closer to a healthy ocean free of trash, and we are committed to working with Starbucks through our International Coastal Cleanup and our Trash Free Seas Alliance to drive positive change. Our hope is that other companies follow suit, and that these innovations are met with greater investment from both the public and private sectors in recycling infrastructure and markets to keep the momentum alive.”

Starbucks Korea was the company’s first market to eliminate straws through strawless lids and paper straw alternatives in 2018. In 2019, Starbucks introduced strawless lids in select markets across the U.S., Canada and China, in addition to introducing Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper straws across the UK and Europe. Strawless lids and straws made from alternative materials will continue to be tested and rolled out to more markets in the coming year, Starbucks said.

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