Starbucks To Go Strawless By 2020, Now Giving You An Adult Sippy Cup Lid

By: Casha Doemland

The urge to go strawless is not lost on anyone, nor is the impact that these non-recyclable bits of plastic have on the environment and those who inhabit it.

As of today, Starbucks, one of the heavy hitters for plastic straws, has pledged to replace their iconic green straws from its 28,000 stores with paper and compostable straws and strawless lids.

Sounds awesome, right?

Before you start jumping for plastic-free joy, let's take a look at their solutions.

Yes, the compostable straws are a great way to go, especially for people who dislike the feel of ice touching their precious lips when they take a sip. The only issue is, according to Colleen Chapman, vice president of global and social impact for Starbucks, the move to go entirely to compostable straws was not favorable due to the lack of composting facilities available.

"We feel very strongly that innovating and engineering on this lid is the best thing to do from an environmental standpoint," she says.

Here is where things get sketchy.

Starbucks’ new lids, which are essentially a larger surface of materials, are made of the same property as their straws, polypropylene, often referred to as PP or type 5 plastic. Polypropylene is recyclable, but it's not accepted by most curbside recycling programs and is one of the least recycled post-consumer plastics, according to the PP production and recycling figures provided by the American Chemistry Council. While the recycling infrastructure for PP could be vastly improved by 2020, currently less than 2% of the material is actually recycled.

While it’s commendable Starbucks has made plans to rid themselves of plastic straws, upon closer examination, it seems they’ve swapped out straws for a larger piece of plastic that’s difficult to recycle to due to its composition.

Is this really a step in the right direction?