SEOUL, Aug. 30 (Korea Bizwire) — Starbucks Coffee Korea Co. said Thursday it will test paper straws at its stores in South Korea next month to replace plastic ones as part of its efforts to protect the environment.
Starbucks Coffee Korea said the two-month test operation is set to begin Sept. 10 at 100 stores in Seoul and other major cities before expanding the introduction of the paper straws to all of its stores throughout the country in November.
The straws, developed by the coffee chain operator, will be provided in two colors, white and green, both of which received food safety approvals from the United States and South Korea. The company said it will choose one color for official adoption after the trial period, reflecting customers’ preference.
The latest decision is part of Starbucks Coffee Co.’s broader move to eliminate single-use plastic straws from its 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020. In a statement last month, the global coffee giant said it expects the move will eliminate more than 1 billion plastic straws per year from all of its stores.
In June, the U.N. Environment warned plastic waste causes a plethora of problems when it leaks into the environment.
Plastic — when discarded in landfills or in the environment — can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, according to the U.N. environmental agency.
Around 180 million plastic straws are used at the coffee chain in South Korea every year, according to Starbucks Coffee Korea, the joint venture between Starbucks Coffee International Inc. and South Korean retail giant Shinsegae.
In line with the move, the company will also remove all plastic straws and stirrers that consumers can freely take at its stores and instead provide one straw per ice drink and also introduce wooden stirrers to replace plastic ones, it said.
Starbucks Korea also plans to introduce strawless lids in November.
Cold beverages accounted for more than 50 percent of its total sales as of last year, up from 37 percent five years ago, it said.