Starbucks Just Made This Cup Change Permanent

For decades, enjoying a cold drink at Starbucks meant taking the beverage with a green plastic straw and in a plastic cup with its distinctive logo on it. But when developer Emily Alexander and her team designed a lid that featured a teardrop-shaped opening the size of a thumbprint for the Starbucks Draft Nitro in 2018, Starbucks realized it had a winner on its hands. Now Starbucks has confirmed that it will be ditching its ubiquitous straw in favor of these lids in all company-operated and licensed Starbucks stores in the US and Canada by the end of September. Starbucks says these lids contain approximately nine percent less plastic than Starbucks' old flat lids and straws and are made with polypropylene, which is a type of recyclable plastic (via CNN).

"By nature, the [plastic] straw isn't recyclable and the lid is, so we feel this decision is more sustainable and more socially responsible. 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," Chris Milne, Director of Packaging Sourcing for Starbucks said (via Plastics Today).

Starbucks' new lid eliminates a billion straws a year

Starbucks says the swap takes a significant number of straws out of circulation. "It sounds dramatic, but this lid is going to get used about a billion times a year. It's going to take billions of single-use plastic straws off the market," Andy Corlett, the company's director of global packaging solutions and innovations said. "It still hasn't necessarily hit me."

We might have thought that the lid was designed after a toddler's sippy cup but Corbett puts that misconception to rest. Alexander and her team actually designed the sippy cup lids so that they came out to be a cleaner, smoother version of its existing hot cup lids. But this doesn't mean that Starbucks is doing away with all its straws because blended drinks just can't be drunk without a straw. We'll still see the same domed top for Starbucks Frappuccinos, except that the straws have been replaced so that Starbucks now either uses paper or a plastic alternative. 

Starbucks' new lids may be a game-changer but as CNN points out, Starbucks still has some way to go before it can consider itself to be completely green. The company still has to figure out what to do with its paper cups. In 2017, it distributed 3.85 billion paper cups, and because these can only be recycled under the right circumstances, they still end up in landfills.