The Seattle, Washington-based, global coffee giant is the largest company to announce a move that is part of a larger push for the business community to become more environmentally-friendly.
Once fully implemented, the policy will eliminate 1bn plastic straws per year from heading to landfills and play a part in saving the estimated 100,000 mammals who die each year from ingesting or getting tangled in plastic waste, particularly in the ocean and on beaches.
To facilitate phasing straws out, Starbucks locations will begin using different lids for cups.
Instead of flat ones with a slit for the straw, the lids will feature a raised lip to drink directly from.
For other drinks, like frappuccino drinks, the current plastic dome lid will remain in use, however, the straws used will be made from paper or other biodegradable material.
Customers will be able to request the new earth-friendly straws for other drinks as well.
Hot drinks will continue to be served with the usual strawless lids.
Since the city of Seattle outlawed plastic straws and utensils beginning last week, Starbucks will begin with stores there and in nearby Vancouver, Canada.
CEO Kevin Johnson called the effort a “significant milestone” in the path to sustainability.
Local governments around the country have followed suit to ban plastic straws or at least strongly encourage residents and businesses to use paper or biodegradable straws.
Cities in Florida in particular like Naples and Fort Myers have implemented such efforts to protect their coastline, eroding from environmental damage and climate change.
New York and San Francisco are considering bans similar to that of Seattle as well and though the discussion of large efforts towards sustainability has been taking place in boardrooms, Starbucks is the first major company to undertake it.
McDonald’s announced recently that it would only use paper straws in their UK and Ireland locations by 2019.
Shareholders voted down an effort to get a report about plastic straws across all locations, but the fast food icon said it would be testing plastic alternatives in select US stores.
Plastic straws comprise approximately four per cent of plastic trash when considering the number of pieces and add 2,000 tonnes to the annual 9 million tonnes of plastic waste which enters bodies of water.