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Starbucks will introduce paper straws this year

The move is the first step in a bid to stop using plastic by 2020
July 11,2018
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Paper straws are displayed in Starbucks coffee mugs. [STARBUCKS KOREA]
Starbucks Korea, the largest cafe franchise in the country, announced that it would introduce a series of eco-friendly changes to realize its ultimate goal of completely eradicating plastic straws from its stores by 2020.

As a first step toward that goal, the cafe chain will begin offering paper straws and strawless plastic lids to customers by the end of this year.

The 1,180 Starbucks stores across the country have been consuming a total of 180 million plastic straws per year on average. The length of these straws when connected together measures 37,800 kilometers (23,488 miles), almost equivalent to the earth’s circumference.

Starbucks Korea also plans to reduce plastic consumption by replacing the plastic used for making straw coverings and merchandise wrapping with paper alternatives. It will also begin stocking coffee stirrers made of biodegradable material, and only supply them upon customer request.

The franchise will encourage customers to use reusable cups by giving them incentives to bring in tumblers.

Since as early as 2013, the cafe chain has been offering a 300 won ($0.27) discount for customers who used their personal tumblers to receive beverages.

By the end of this year, Starbucks plans to additionally introduce the “Eco Bonus Star” program, which will allow customers registered with the My Starbucks Rewards membership program to choose between receiving a 300 won discount or one additional “star” when they bring their own tumblers. Rewards members who accumulate enough stars by purchasing Starbucks items can earn free food and drinks.

From last month, the franchise also began sending out automatic electronic receipts to all 4 million Rewards members who downloaded the Starbucks app. The cafe chain was able to save approximately 9 million paper receipts last month through this measure.

To help its stores carry out these eco-friendly activities, the company will offer comprehensive educational resources and support to Starbucks storeowners to teach them how to properly recycle and guide customers toward sustainable behavior.

“In consideration of future generations,” said Lee Seok-gu, CEO of Starbucks Coffee Korea, “eco-friendly management should no longer be optional, but obligatory.”

Starbucks Korea is one of the 21 major cafe and fast food franchises that signed a voluntary agreement with the Ministry of Environment in May to reduce plastic consumption and increase the recycling rates of its plastic waste.

From Monday through July 25, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will work with local governing authorities and activist groups to carry out on-site inspections on the use of disposable cups inside cafes and fast food stores. If stores are found to be ignoring the terms of the agreement they may be subject to a fine.

Prior to Starbucks Korea’s announcement on Monday, the franchise’s U.S. headquarters announced that it plans to eliminate plastic straws by 2020 across all 28,000 of its stores worldwide citing environmental concerns. The move came after the City of Seattle, the birthplace of the coffee giant, placed a ban on the use of plastic straws and utensils in food service businesses from July.


BY KIM EUN-JIN [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]