"Why Starbucks’ Straw Ban Is an Environmental Milestone"

"Replacing plastic straws with plastic lids won't clean up the ocean. But that's not really the point."

"To have an honest conversation about the ocean plastics crisis, one must accept two hard truths. The first is that the situation is dire: Every year, more than 8 million metric tons of plastic waste gets lost at sea, where it breaks down into microplastics that kill marine life. The second is that solving the problem will be very difficult. We could get rid of all the plastic straws in the world, and we still wouldn’t be anywhere near out of the woods.

That latter point is why some have scoffed at Starbucks’s Monday announcement that it will phase out plastic straws in its 28,000 stores around the world by 2020. Within a year and and a half, the company said, its plastic straws would be replaced with sippy cup-like lids—which, yes, will also be made of plastic. The drinks that currently come with straws, like iced coffees and frappuccinos, will still be served in plastic cups. “So what are we celebrating exactly?” tweeted science journalist Erin Biba. “Putting a bandaid on a gaping wound and patting ourselves on the back.”

Supporters of Starbucks’s plan acknowledge it’s not a perfect solution. “Clearly we need more and bigger commitments from companies that are literally handing us tons of plastics every day,” said Jacqueline Savitz, the chief policy officer at environmental non-profit Oceana. But you have to start somewhere, she said. Why not do so with a product that most people don’t actually need? (Some disabled people may need straws, but Starbucks said it will still have paper straws and biodegradable plastic straws on hand if people request them.) "

Emily Atkin reports for the New Republic July 10, 2018.

Source: New Republic, 07/11/2018