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How The Starbucks Straw Ban Affects Those With Disabilities

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How The Starbucks Straw Ban Affects Those With Disabilities

In an effort to help better conserve ocean and marine life, Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX) has kicked off an initiative to diminish plastic waste within the company. The idea may benefit turtles, but it could also present negative ramifications for those with disabilities, according to activists. 

What Happened

A reported 71 percent of seabirds and 30 percent of turtles have been found with plastic in their bodies, contributing to a 50-percent mortality rate for marine life that has ingested plastic, according to the group For A Strawless Ocean. 

Numerous companies have responded to this data by developing new ways to cut back on plastic waste. Starbucks is one of the first to initiate the plans on a global scale.

The global coffee retailer “will eliminate single-use plastic straws from its more than 28,000 company operated and licensed stores by making a strawless lid or alternative-material straw options available, around the world," the company said ina  press release. The move will eliminate more than 1 billion plastic straws annually, according to Starbucks.  

Some groups have brought up legitimate concerns over the strawless initiative.  

Several disability activists voiced their concerns on the potential exclusion of customers with disabilities. Members from groups such as the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled and Disabled in Action planned to protest outside a busy New York Starbucks.

In response to these concerns and the threat of protest, Starbucks released a statement outlining the new policy and addressing the critiques from disability activists.

"Starbucks offers, and will continue to offer, straws to customers who need or request them in our stores,” the statement said.

Despite this, the disability activist groups remained concerned that the straws would not be readily available for customers at all times — or actually disposable. 

Why It’s Important

While Starbucks is the first major corporation to set plastic reduction plans in motion, many others are likely to follow suit. McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE: MCD) will likely be the next fast-food company to execute on the idea. 

After the Philadelphia incident earlier this year, Starbucks designed and executed a personalized sensitivity training for all partners. Within this training, employees were taught how to treat each customer with equal respect, reduce personal judgments and most importantly, make every patron feel included, according to the company. 

What’s Next

Arguably, the elimination of plastic straws could hinder inclusivity at Starbucks stores by forcing those with disabilities to specifically request supplies for their product. 

Starbucks plans to be mostly strawless by 2020.

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Posted-In: For A Strawless Ocean npr oceans PBS strawsRestaurants Media General Best of Benzinga

 

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