The same week that Hyatt and Starbucks broke plans to forever dump plastic drink straws, American Airlines boarded the same bandwagon. AA will stop providing plastic straws for in-flight drinks and cocktails, or in Admirals Club lounges, by November, according to The Points Guy.
While straws will become a special-request item at Hyatt locations, American will offer straws and stir sticks made of different material. Alaska Airlines did the same.
Here’s a present accounting of airlines and other companies pulling straws sometime this year:
- American Airlines: no more plastic beginning November.
- Alaska Airlines: plastic straws out, wood stirrers in beginning July 16.
- Hyatt: beginning in September, Hyatt guests will have to request plastic straws in drinks.
- Starbucks: cutting straws altogether by 2020.
Other businesses are eliminating other disposable food service items. Dunkin Donuts’ parent group plans to dump plastic foam cups in the next two years. Yum! Brands, which owns the Taco Bell and KFC brands, is working on cutting down different types of packaging, but specifics are sparse.
Assessing the net environmental impact of competing disposable food service materials is complex, and doesn’t always favor alternatives over plastic. Plastic foam is often perceived as more harmful than paper cups, but increased packaging weight associated with heavier-by-volume paper packaging correlates with greater greenhouse emissions.
Ocean cleanliness seems to be a bigger concern in recent decisions, as oceanographers and environmental scientist sound alarm about plastic buildup in the world’s water bodies. Brands seem leary to be associated with images like this: