LIFESTYLE
26/04/2018 09:31 BST | Updated 26/04/2018 09:33 BST

Plastic Free Living: Starbucks To Start Using Paper Straws In UK

A petition for the coffee chain to ditch the straws has gained more than 68,000 signatures.

Starbucks is set to trial alternative solutions for plastic straws across 54 of its UK stores, testing public reaction to paper and biodegradable plastic straws.

The announcement comes after a Starbucks employee launched a petition calling on her employer to ditch plastic straws. Stephanie Muttillo, from New Jersey, said the coffee chain had a duty to help tackle the growing problem of plastic waste. “I would like to see Starbucks, the company I work for, help lead the way to shrink our footprint on the planet,” she explained. 

“Plastic straws are too lightweight to be recycled, and oftentimes are made out of the same plastic as styrofoam, which cannot be recycled. There are many alternatives to plastic straws. Many companies have started using compostable straws or paper straws.”

Her online petition has gained more than 68,000 signatures at the time of writing.

[READ MORE: Eco-friendlier alternatives to beat plastic straw bans]

Zhang Peng via Getty Images

The trial will start in May and will initially launch across 54 stores in London and Manchester. 

Alongside the announcement Starbucks revealed the results from the first six weeks of a three-month trial into reusable cups. A total of 35 stores have been implementing a 5p paper cup charge, with extra profits being donated to an environmental charity. Customers using reusable cups also receive a 25p discount. Results from the trial show reusable cup usage has increased by more than 150%.

The new straw trial follows commitments from the likes of McDonald’s, Wetherspoons and Wagamama to phase out plastic straws in UK branches. 

The news comes on the same day more than 40 of the largest UK businesses, including major supermarkets, have signed the UK Plastics Pact, agreeing to make all their plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. 

In light of the move away from plastic straws, campaigners, including Michaela Hollywood, who has spinal muscular atrophy, have urged companies to ensure they are providing alternatives, such as paper straws, rather than banning them altogether, pointing out some disabled people reply on straws to drink.