Kevin Johnson, Starbucks president and CEO, called the move a "significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways".
Environmental activists have been pressuring businesses to ditch plastic straws because they can end up in the ocean and hurt marine life. Several other USA cities have already implemented similar bans, or have proposed legislation in the works.
Starbucks will begin rolling out the new lids for all drinks this fall, starting with stores in Vancouver, Canada, and Seattle. The transition will be complete in 2019, the company said. "Metal straws can be unsafe for people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson's whereas reusable plastic straws present hygiene concerns to people with specific health conditions".
The announcement from McDonald's followed an April proposal by the United Kingdom government to ban plastic straws in the country.
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In the United States, local governments are already putting similar restrictions into place. Starbucks's hometown of Seattle, for example, banned plastic straws and utensils beginning this month, while the California cities of Davis and San Luis Obispo prohibit restaurants from handing out plastic straws unless a customer requests one.
Straws add about 1,800 tonnes of the more than eight million tonnes of plastic waste that is dumped into waters every year.
Starbucks, citing the environment threat to oceans, will ban plastic straws from all of its stores globally in less than two years. "We hope others will follow in [Starbucks'] footsteps".
Straws add up to about 2,000 tons of the almost 9 million tons of plastic waste that ends up in waters around the globe each year.