Influential Forces Move Against Plastic Straws

Many cities have banned single-use plasticware, the most notable being Seattle, Malibu, Washington DC, and San Francisco. Miami Beach banned the use of plastic straws on the beach itself. But why? Straws seem so small and inconsequential. Well, straws and other plastic utensils are a major form of waste that people produce, and starting with something small, like straws, could help bring everyone to a cleaner, healthier planet.

Several companies have pledged to either remove plastic straws or reduce their use of plastic utensils. The companies that have released a statement or plan about what they intend to do are Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott International, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Royal Caribbean, Aramark, SeaWorld Entertainment, Disney, and Starbucks. So what do they plan to do?

Hyatt will only make plastic straws available upon request, as well as making eco-friendly alternatives for other products, though they did not say what those other products would be, or what the alternatives would be. Hilton is removing plastic straws and replacing them with a biodegradable option. Their goal is to cut their environmental footprint in half by 2030. Marriott International will remove plastic straws, and will have paper or biodegradable options available upon request.

American Airlines is going to get rid of plastic straws and replace them with biodegradable options. They are also switching to straw or wood stirrers to serve with their drinks. Alaska Airlines will start to replace plastic straws with sustainable, marine-friendly alternatives. Royal Caribbean will remove all plastic straws from all of their ships. Straws will be available upon request, and the straws will be paper. There will be wooden stirrers and bamboo toothpicks instead of plastic as well. They plan to phase out more single-use plastic items and have it all be recyclable or reusable by 2020.

Aramark plans to significantly reduce its use of single-use plastic cutlery by 2022. They are phasing out plastic straws and stirrers with eco-friendly alternatives available. SeaWorld Entertainment has removed all single-use plastic straws and all single-use plastic bags. Disney is getting rid of all single use plastic straws and stirrers at their parks. Starbucks is replacing their straws with recyclable, strawless lids. Straws made of alternative materials will be available upon request. The new lid will be used for all iced coffee, iced tea, and espresso drinks, and is currently being tested at various Starbucks locations around the country. Their goal is to eliminate all plastic straws by 2020.

The removal of plastic straws won’t necessarily make a big impact, but environmentalists are saying that it could help facilitate a behavior change that society needs to go through to help the planet.