Airlines, restaurants and hotels are switching to more sustainable products
| July 23, 2018
From airlines to restaurants and hotels, the hospitality and tourism industry is responding to calls for more sustainable products. A small move, as "simple" as dropping plastic straws, could make a significant impact on the planet.
Alaska Airlines replaced plastic straws with sustainable, marine-friendly alternatives
Alaska Airlines announced in May that the company would replace nonrecyclable plastic stir straws and citrus picks with sustainable, marine-friendly alternatives on all flights.
For passengers with special needs, the airline will offer nonplastic, marine-friendly options upon request. This move alone will eliminate 22 million plastics straws and citrus picks a year.
McDonald’s is ditching plastic straws in the UK and Ireland
McDonald’s said in June that the company would begin using paper straws to replace the plastic ones in all of its stores in the U.K. and Ireland in September.
The company uses about 1.8 million straws a day or approximately 650 million straws a year in the U.K. alone. It is expected that all McDonald’s in the U.K. and Ireland will completely eliminate plastic straws by the end of 2019.
The same initiative will also be tested later this year in selected restaurants in the U.S. and other markets around the world even though McDonald’s has no plan to ban plastic straws entirely in the near future. The company has set a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 36 percent before 2030.
Starbucks is replacing plastic straws with other sustainable alternatives in its global locations
Starbucks announced in July that the company would eliminate single-use plastic straws in over 28,000 stores that the company operated and licensed around the globe by 2020, with alternative options of strawless lid or alternative-material straws becoming available. This "small" move alone is expected to eliminate more than 1 billion plastic straws per year.
The company has already developed and manufactured a newly designed strawless lid, which will soon become the standard for all Starbucks iced coffee, tea, and espresso drinks.
Currently, the strawless lid is available in more than 8,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada for selected beverages and is pilot tested in China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Consumers in the U.S. and Canada will be able to see the strawless lids being implemented by the end of 2019.
For those consumers who cannot give up a straw or with special needs, Starbucks will offer alternative options — straws made from paper or compostable plastic — available upon requests. Meanwhile, Starbucks is taking the following initiatives to help cut the waste:
- Adding 5p paper cup charge in the U.K.
- Offering a discount to customers bringing in a reusable cup or tumbler to the company-owned stores around the world
- Using post-consumer fiber (10 percent) in cups
Starbucks and McDonald’s are working together in developing new sustainable cups
Starbucks and McDonald’s together distribute 24 billion cups, or 4 percent, of the 600 billion cups used around the world. Earlier this year, Starbucks and Closed Loop Partners launched the NextGen Cup Challenge, calling on entrepreneurs to develop materials and designs that can transform the single-use cup usage by consumers.
The Challenge provides grants to promising ideas that can provide market-ready solutions. Starbucks contributed $5 million to the Challenge, and McDonald’s has matched that fund.
Marriott is also dropping plastic straws
As the world’s largest hotel chain, Marriott announced the company would remove plastic straws as well as plastic stirrers from the hotel’s 6,500-plus properties by July 2019. By doing so, the company is expected to eliminate more than 1 billion plastic straws and about 250 million stirrers per year.
Please stop saying that replacing plastic straws is bad for people in need
I fully understand straws are necessary for people with special needs and not every consumer is willing to make extra efforts to dine at a green restaurant. Yet, I also believe we can be more considerate and take on more responsibilities for the planet where we all live.
Would it be possible for the caregivers to bring a reusable straw for those with special needs? If not, at least at this point, every company mentioned above that is taking the "no-plastic-straw" initiative is also offering other alternatives that are more sustainable upon request.
Next time when you eat at a restaurant, would you say no to the server who brings you a plastic straw? Everyone is responsible for sustainable tourism, right? Please don’t wait until it is too late to do anything.
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