The Last Straw

handful of straws

Back in April, a group of individuals in the hospitality industry started asking everyone to #stopsuckingtoronto and it started a movement. The website laststrawtoronto.ca, noted that an astonishing 57 million straws are used per day in Canada alone (yikes!), and it takes 500 years for plastic to decompose. These numbers are astounding, as most people think that all plastic is recyclable and that everyone is throwing their plastics in the blue bin. We were shocked to learn that 91% of plastic is NOT recycled.
Businesses have already started doing more to ensure they are making their green thumb known to customers, with the most notable being Starbucks ridding themselves of their iconic green straw by 2020. In its place the company will introduce straw less lids which will have a hole to sip from. These lids which were originally developed for “Nitro” coffee beverages which have a creamy top and are best drunk without a straw, have proven to be controversial in the weeks since the coffee chain made their announcement.
It has been said that the Nitro lids use more plastic than the combination of the company’s current lids and straws. Starbucks did not dispute this claim but stressed that the straw less lid is made from a commonly recyclable plastic, polypropylene, which is easily captured in a recycling facility whereas the straw is not.
Will this movement encourage other brands to go straw less, or even better, stop making single use products altogether?
The movement reaches even further with the NextGen Cup Consortium. This is led by the two food industry heavyweights, Starbucks and McDonalds, who are committed to developing cups which can be composted or recycled and given a second life. These two brands have opened a challenge to suppliers and innovators who have ground-breaking ideas to recover the single use cup. Awardees can receive grant funding up to $1 million dollars and up to seven awardees will then enter a six-month program to help scale up their solutions. The Challenge is launching in September 2018 and we can’t wait to see where the food industry takes the single use cup next – we just hope it is away from the landfill.