In a stunning parallel between their virtue signaling customer base and their own corporate near-sightedness, Starbucks has jumped the shark once again, this time in the realm of ecological peer pressure.
Listen, it’s no surprise that the world has a plastic problem. Scientists on either side of the aisle will agree to that, but what needs to be done about this issue is where we start finding ourselves in fiery and fierce disagreements. Some believe that recycling may be the only solution, and companies such as Coca Cola were early innovators in the field of plastic-based fibers for fully recycled t-shirt and the like.
From Coca Cola themselves:
In 2007, we invested in designing and producing the “Drink2Wear” fashion apparel made from recycled plastic bottles. The Drink2Wear T-shirts are made from a blend of recycled plastic bottles and cotton and feature playful slogans such as “Make Your Plastic Fantastic” and “Rehash Your Trash.” We launched our sustainable fashion line of apparel and consumer products at the newly opened World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georgia.
After sales success in our Coca-Cola online store and at the World of Coca-Cola, and significant popularity among our associates, we began marketing the T-shirts to our customers.
The only problem is that this is barely a dent in the plastic problem, and it’s costing us a whole lot of money to go through with it.
Remember, when we talk about recycling, we have our 4 main categories: Paper/cardboard, glass, plastic, and aluminum. Based on simple economics, the only item actually worth recycling is aluminum, due to its value as a precious metal. The others cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year.
Another common misconception is that we’re running out of room for trash, so recycling is the only option. This is simply not true.
So, while our new push to limit the amount of plastic straws that we use in America is all in good faith, Starbucks has missed the mark pretty spectacularly.
In July, Seattle imposed America’s first ban on plastic straws. Vancouver, British Columbia, passed a similar ban a few months earlier. There are active attempts to prohibit straws in New York City, Washington, D.C., Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco. A-list celebrities from Calvin Harris to Tom Brady have lectured us on giving up straws. Both National Geographic and The Atlantic have run long profiles on the history and environmental effects of the straw. Vice is now treating their consumption as a dirty, hedonistic excess.
Not to be outdone by busybody legislators, Starbucks, the nation’s largest food and drink retailer, announced on Monday that it would be going strawless.
But, wait! This wouldn’t be Starbucks story without an incredibly ironic failure to mention!
Right now, Starbucks patrons are topping most of their cold drinks with either 3.23 grams or 3.55 grams of plastic product, depending on whether they pair their lid with a small or large straw. The new nitro lids meanwhile weigh either 3.55 or 4.11 grams, depending again on lid size.
(I got these results by measuring Starbucks’ plastic straws and lids on two seperate scales, both of which gave me the same results.)
This means customers are at best breaking even under Starbucks’ strawless scheme, or they are adding between .32 and .88 grams to their plastic consumption per drink. Given that customers are going to use a mix of the larger and smaller nitro lids, Starbucks’ plastic consumption is bound to increase, although it’s anybody’s guess as to how much.