From Daily Mail: A simple experiment claims to reveal that Starbucks planned switch to strawless lids in an effort to environmental threat to oceans will actually require the use of more plastic than its previous use of straws with traditional lids, based on weighing the different possible combinations.
The experiment was conducted by Christian Britschgi, assistant editor of Reason, an editorially independent publication of the Reason Foundation, which is a national, non-profit research and educational organization.
‘Customers are at best breaking even under Starbucks’ strawless scheme, or they are adding between .32 and .88 grams to their plastic consumption per drink,’ Britschgi argued in the article.
Starbucks, however, told DailyMail.com: ‘The strawless lid is made from polypropylene, a commonly-accepted recyclable plastic that can be captured in recycling infrastructure, unlike straws which are too small and lightweight to be captured in modern recycling equipment.’
In response, Britschgi told DailyMail.com that ‘the new lids [being] recyclable has little bearing on how many will end up in the world’s oceans and waterways.’
Britschgi added: ‘Starbucks does not deny that the new lids will result in the company using more plastic.’
In an article touting strawless lid designer Emily Alexander, published on Starbucks’ website on Monday, Chris Milne, director of packaging sourcing for the coffee company, explained how this change in form is beneficial to the environment, further:
‘We feel this decision is more sustainable and more socially responsible,’ Chris Milne, director of packaging sourcing for Starbucks, said, in an article touting strawless lid designer Emily Alexander published on the company’s website on Monday.
Assuming that the straws used by Starbucks were made of exactly the same composition and type of plastic as its strawless lids, which are already being used for a small number of drinks including Draft Nitro and Cold Foam in more than 8,000 stores in the US and Canada, Britschgi’s experiment seems like it’s on to something.
He wrote: ‘Right now, Starbucks patrons are topping most of their cold drinks with either 3.23 grams or 3.55 grams of plastic product, depending on whether they pair their lid with a small or large straw.’
He explained that he arrived at these results by measuring Starbucks’ plastic straws and lids on two separate scales, both of which gave him the same results. ‘The new nitro lids meanwhile weigh either 3.55 or 4.11 grams, depending again on lid size,’ he said.
‘Given that customers are going to use a mix of the larger and smaller Nitro lids, Starbucks’ plastic consumption is bound to increase, although it’s anybody’s guess as to how much.’
Starbucks confirmed to DailyMail.com that its straws are also made from polypropylene, like most plastic straws typically are, but that regardless of their composition, most recyclers won’t accept them.
‘Plastic straws are pretty small and lightweight, so when they’re going through the mechanical sorter, they’re often lost or diverted,’ Sam Athey, a plastics pollution researcher and member of the Plastic Ocean Project, a North Carolina-based nonprofit organization that aims to reduce plastic use, told the New York Times.
Britschgi told DailyMail.com that, in his opinion, such a distinction is beside the point.
Starbucks’ cited the environmental threat to oceans posed by the single-use products as its motivating factor to accomplish its total ban of single-use plastic straws in less than two years.
‘That the new lids are recyclable has little bearing on how many will end up in the world’s oceans and waterways,’ Britschgi told DailyMail.com.
‘Most marine plastic waste is the result of littering or poor waste management. So long as the plastic is properly collected, it’s irrelevant whether it winds up at a landfill or a recycling center.’
But from a wider perspective, experts disagree that straws in landfills are no different than straws in oceans and waterways.
Erin Simon, director of sustainability research & development and material science at World Wildlife Fund US, called Starbucks’ decision to eliminate plastic straws ‘forward-thinking in tackling the material waste challenge.’
Milne added: ‘Starbucks is finally drawing a line in the sand and creating a mold for other large brands to follow. We are raising the water line for what’s acceptable and inspiring our peers to follow suit.’
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