VOTE: Are you on board with the straw-free movement?

Starbucks’ new strawless lid (AFP)

Starbucks announced on July 9 it plans to ditch plastic straws by 2020 in line with a global movement to curb the use of disposable plastics.

It’s a move the company anticipates will eliminate more than one billion plastic straws from its 28,000 stores per year.

Stores in Seattle, Wash. and Vancouver, B.C. will go straw-free as early as this fall, replacing traditional plastic straws with recyclable strawless lids — reminiscent of “sippy cup” lids — and paper or compostable plastic straws.

Customers of more than 8,000 stores in Canada and the U.S. might already be familiar with the strawless lid, which is currently available for drinks like Starbucks Draft Nitro and Cold Foam.

After this lid becomes standard for all cold drinks in Seattle and Vancouver, Starbucks will launch a global rollout of the strawless lid beginning in France, the Netherlands and the U.K.

A voluntary movement

In increasingly more coastal and even inland cities, the sight of restaurant patrons sipping drinks through plastic straws is becoming a memory as the movement to ban single-use plastic utensils gains traction.

“With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we cannot afford to let industry sit on the sidelines,” Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program, said regarding Starbucks’ announcement on Monday.

Other companies have also ditched or vowed to ditch plastic straws voluntarily before bans come into effect.

In June, McDonald’s said it would start switching to paper straws in the United Kingdom and Ireland in September, completing the transition in 2019.

Plastics and ocean health were a major topic of discussion between Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Theresa May when the two met on April 18 to talk about their shared priorities as part of the Commonwealth leaders’ summit in London.

The subject of ocean health surfaced again in a speech by Queen Elizabeth II at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on April 19.

“The Commonwealth Canopy has emphasised our interdependence,” the Queen said. “While the Commonwealth Blue Charter promises to do the same in protecting our shared ocean resources.

In an effort to reduce the use of avoidable plastic waste that inevitably ends up swirling around the world’s oceans and washing up along its coastlines, the British government has pledged to ban the use of plastic drinking straws, plastic-stemmed cotton swabs and plastic drink stirrers.

The ban is part of a “national plan of action” that aims to eradicate avoidable plastic waste by 2042 in England, where an estimated 8.5 billion straws are disposed of each year. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged Canada’s support for the international declaration, he stopped short of committing to an outright ban on plastic straws in Canada.

Mixed feelings

Whether or not banning straws is the key to cleaning the world’s oceans, many people have joined the debate on all sides, arguing online for and against a ban.

‘Entourage’ actor Adrian Grenier has focused his straw ire at Starbucks, telling the café chain to “stop sucking.”

How do you feel about businesses voluntarily ditching plastic straws? Vote in the poll above or have your say in the comments below.