Saturday, July 14, 2018

Starbucks' Straw Ban Won't Help The Planet, But Will Hurt The Disabled

Starbucks won raves from environmentalists for its ban on straws. But while a strawless Starbucks won't do anything to help the environment, it will discriminate against the disabled. Virtue signaling can be a tricky business.
Under pressure from environmentalists, the coffee giant says that it will replace plastic straws with sippy-cup style lids at all of its stores by 2020. The company isn't the first to do so, although it is the biggest. Hilton and Marriott hotels said they're removing plastic straws at many of their hotels. American Airlines said it will get rid of plastic straws starting this November. Various cities have or plan to impose bans.
...Whatever the number, straw bans in the U.S. will have virtually no impact on the world's plastic pollution problem. Not only do straws represent a tiny portion of plastic waste that ends up in the ocean, but the U.S. itself accounts for less than 1% of the marine plastic in the world's oceans, according to a 2015 study published in the journal Science. Europe's coastal countries, by contrast, account for almost 3%.
Just five countries — China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka — are responsible for more than half of the plastic entering the ocean each year.
That's because, unlike those other countries, the U.S. has better waste management systems in place — which keeps most of our trash in landfills or recycling centers, and out of the oceans. The Science study notes that just 2% of the waste in the U.S. is "mismanaged," compared with 76% in China, 90% in North Korea, 88% in Vietnam, and 87% in India.
...What's more, Starbucks will likely end up using more plastic after the ban than before.
According to Reason magazine's Christian Britschgi, the replacement lid Starbucks is likely to use contains up to 15% more plastic by weight than the current lid-and-straw combo. Starbucks, he reports, did not address, nor did it dispute, that its transition to strawless lids would increase its overall plastic consumption.

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