Plastic straw ban heats up

StarbucksGot a problem with your paper straw falling apart before you finish your drink? Drink faster! That’s the solution being offered by several drink companies when asked about the flimsy paper straws that are supposed to be substitutes for plastic straws.

It seems that the ban on plastic straws coming to a city near you is causing quite a stir. A front-page article in the Wall Street Journal on March 20, “The War on Straws Is Coming to a Bar Near You,” detailed the history of the straw and the necessity of straws in certain cases. For example, the article by Cara Lombardo cited a dentist who said if a person is drinking anything but water, they should be using a straw. Some people won’t put their lips on the rim of a drinking glass for fear the glass is not sterile enough.

Paper straws don’t hold up well, especially if it’s taking awhile to slurp down your milkshake. They also don’t work well as stirrers in drinks. Lombardo noted in her article that at one event sponsored by Smirnoff and Tanqueray by Diageo PLC (which dropped plastic straws), people “downed Moscow Mules quickly to prevent paper straws from disintegrating.” The WSJ article also said that one person noted his paper straw “wasn’t bad for 10 minutes—until it started absorbing his Coke Zero.” 

That sounds like great advice: Guzzle your cocktails so your straw lasts!

The WSJ article quoted actor Adrian Grenier in a news release championing the cause: “We see straws as a ‘gateway plastic’ in understanding the pollution problem.”

Grenier was also named as the presenter for the activist group As You Sow’s shareholder resolution in Starbucks’ annual general meeting being held today (March 21). In a March 20 release from As You Sow, Grenier was called the UN Environment Good Will Ambassador. He will ask Starbucks to “take bold action to reduce its global plastic footprint.”

Specifically, said the release, shareholder Proposal #5 asks the company to phase out the estimated two billion green plastic straws it uses each year, which are non-recyclable and can harm marine life. “This proposal will be presented against a backdrop of environmental action from Starbucks’ corporate peers in recent months,” said the release. “The resolution requests aggressive plans for Starbucks to meet its packaging reuse and recycling goals the company set nine years ago but has failed to implement.”

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