Jessica Booth
July 27, 2018 7:02 am
Godong/Getty Images

In the last few weeks, banning plastic straws has become something of a trend for big companies. In early July, Starbucks made headlines when it announced that it would ban plastic straws completely by 2020. While Starbucks wasn’t the first company to come to this decision (a similar ban has been in place in Europe for some time now), it certainly made an impact. Since its announcement, several other companies have banned plastic straws, and so have some cities across the U.S. As Time.com reports, eight million tons of plastic goes into our oceans each year, and that amount is only expected to grow.

And although plastic straws are not the world’s biggest source of marine pollution, many consider the straw ban an important step in reducing plastic-based waste. Plastic isn’t biodegradable, it kills vital marine life, and getting rid of plastic straws makes sense to many because they can easily be replaced by non-plastic options.

While supporting the environment is critical, it should also be noted that this specific ban could negatively affect people with certain disabilities who need plastic straws in order to drink. In an article for The HuffPost, Robyn Powell, who describes herself as “a proud disabled woman,” wrote, “People with disabilities want to save the planet. We also need to be able to drink. These two positions do not have to be mutually exclusive. Banning plastic straws entirely is not the answer.”

Still, many companies are opting to shift to non-plastic options. Here’s a list of the company’s that have made the pledge so far:

1The Walt Disney Co.

As of July 26th, 2018, Disney became the latest company to ban plastic straws. It announced that it would stop using single-use plastic straws and plastic stirrers at all of its locations by mid-2019. Disney estimates that this plan will eliminate more than 175 million straws and 13 million stirrers annually.

2Marriott Hotels

Marriott International became one of a few major hotel chains to announce a plan to remove plastic straws and drink stirrers. The company said the ban would affect all of its 6,500 hotels and resorts worldwide by 2019. It believes the move will eliminate approximately one billion straws and 250 million stirrers by July 2019. However, the policy will allow hotels to deplete their existing supplies while offering alternatives upon request.

3American Airlines

American Airlines will eliminate plastic straws from both its lounges and its flights. The airline plans to replace plastic straws and flatware in its lounges with biodegradable, eco-friendly options beginning in July 2018 and to replace straws and stir-sticks on actual flights in November. They expect this move to eliminate 71,000 pounds of plastic each year.

4Royal Caribbean 

In an official statement, Royal Caribbean said it would be eliminating plastic straws on all 50 of its ships by the end of 2019. The statement also said that, for over a year now, their ships have been using a “straws upon request” policy, where they only give plastic straws to those who ask for them. Starting in 2019, however, they will be offering only paper straws, wood coffee stirrers, and bamboo garnish picks.

5Hyatt 

Hyatt is another major hotel chain to announce the elimination of plastic straws and drink picks. Starting September 1st, 2018 both will only be available by request and eco-friendly alternatives will be provided where available. Hyatt also announced its “2020 Environmental Sustainability Vision” four years ago, which includes utilizing sustainable practices where possible, like offering reusable earbuds rather than single-use ones.

6Alaska Airlines

Back in May 2018, Alaska Airlines partnered with the non-profit Lonely Whale to replace plastic straws and citrus picks with “sustainable alternatives in its airport lounges and on all domestic and international commercial flights” starting July 2018.

7Bon Appétit Management

Also back in May 2018, Bon Appétit said it will be banning all plastic straws and stirrers in 1,000 restaurants in 33 states. It expects to completely phase them out by 2019. In doing so, Bon Appétit became the first food service company or major restaurant company to make this commitment in the U.S.

8Hilton Hotels

In May 2018, Hilton also announced that it would be removing plastic straws. A press release said the company would be removing plastic straws from all managed hotels around the world by the end of 2018, and also removing plastic water bottles from conference rooms, making Hilton the first hotel chain to ban both worldwide.

9SeaWorld Entertainment 

In June 2018, SeaWorld said it would be eliminating plastic straws and shopping bags from its 12 theme parks. The company previously lowered its greenhouse gas emissions by nine percent from 2014 to 2017 and improved recycling of waste materials by more than 50 percent over the same amount of time.

10Ikea

Ikea became another major retailer to commit to phasing out all single-use plastic products from its stores and restaurants by 2020. The brand said it would be phasing out plastic straws, cups, freezer bags, bin bags, and plastic-coated paper plates and cups. It also has been phasing out oil-based plastics and invested in a plastics recycling plants to help make sure all plastic products are made using recycled materials by August 2020.

11Starbucks

Of course, Starbucks has also committed to phasing out plastic straws from its more than 28,000 stores around the world. It will eliminate the use of one billion straws every single year. Straws will be replaced with newly-designed recyclable lids, which are already being used for some Starbucks drinks in 8,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada (they’re made of polypropylene, a recyclable plastic).

Banning plastic straws is only one step in tackling the problem of plastic in our oceans. Let’s hope more brands and companies follow suit.

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