They essentially look like sippy cup lids - regular plastic lids with a raised and slanted mouthpiece for customers to drink from.
"This move is an answer to our own partners about what we can do to reduce the need for straws", said Colleen Chapman, vice president of Starbucks global social impact overseeing sustainability. Starbucks' announcement comes in good time; their hometown of Seattle just became the first major USA city to ban single-use plastic straws and utensils.
The coffee chain is ditching single-use plastic straws from all its locations by 2020. The city of Vancouver recently initiated a straw ban that will start this fall.
Starbucks has a two-pronged plan to eliminate plastic straws. The lids will become standard for all iced drinks except Frappuccino, which will still have a domed lid but be served with a paper straw or one made of compostable material.
About 275 million metric tons of plastic waste was generated in 192 coastal countries in 2010, with 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons entering the ocean, according to a 2015 Science magazine report. But Starbucks has revealed that these sipper cups will not pose an environmental threat as they are made from "polypropylene content" which "can be widely recycled". And straws contribute only 2,000 tons to the nearly nine million tons of plastic waste that wind up in the water annually, according to the Associated Press.
Other chains are also experimenting with getting rid of straws. A global rollout of strawless lids will follow, beginning in Europe, where they will be used in some stores in France and the Netherlands, as well as in the United Kingdom.