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Photo: Surfrider


The Inertia

Major corporations have been taking a bigger and bigger role in solving our plastic pollution problem recently. Starbucks, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott UK, Seaworld Entertainment, Royal Caribbean, and now as of Thursday, Marriott, have all announced plans to ditch plastic straws  — most of them jumping on board just this summer alone. It’s clearly a trend with some of the world’s largest companies taking a positive leadership role aimed at cleaning up our planet. Or the public has simply done enough to demand changes that major corporations are now choosing not to ignore.

The alternatives range from biodegradable, or paper, straws at Marriott UK to plastic sip-cup tops from Starbucks. Hilton announced they will reduce their overall environmental footprint by half by 2030. Seaworld Entertainment is getting rid of both plastic bags and straws. All of these plans have different timelines for being rolled out and completed, from Hyatt making plastic straws available only by request as of September 1 to Starbucks being strawless by 2020, a move that’s eliminating one billion plastic straws from the Seattle-based coffee company alone.

While the changes are positive and effectively massive — we use 500 million plastic straws a day according to Strawless Ocean — straws are obviously only one part of the plastic pollution problem.

“It’s great to see business ranging from small independent restaurants to global corporations taking action to eliminate single-use plastic straws. Plastic straws [are] wasteful and commonly found on beaches,” says Surfrider CEO Dr. Chad Nelsen. “That said, straws are just the beginning. We [need] to eliminate the full suite of single-use plastics, such as plastic bags, foam, and utensils if we want to improve ocean health.”

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