Anti-plastic campaigns pay off for Starbucks, 7-Eleven

Starbucks Korea and 7-Eleven Thailand have announced positive results for their respective anti-plastic campaigns.

A report in Pulse News Korea revealed that the local Starbucks subsidiary has seen consumption of single-use straws cut by half in the months since introducing strawless lids on drinks without whipped cream or that do not need stirring.

The initiative, introduced last November, has resulted in the monthly average of 15 million straws used across its coffee chain stores drop to 7.5 million per month. The company now only provides straws to customers who request them.

Aiming to further reduce straw usage by up to 70 per cent, Starbucks Korea is planning an online event to offer rewards to customers who upload pictures of drinks taken without using straws. It has also introduced paper straws for usage in some beverages.

7-Eleven saves 169 million bags

Meanwhile, in Thailand, more than 169 million plastic bags have remained unused over the past two months at 7-Eleven stores, according to a report in local news site The Thaiger, the result of a management initiative to phase out their use. The move, which has been supported by local celebrities, encourages shoppers to refuse plastic bags or bring reusable bags to the store.

The reductions are reported to have saved the chain more than 33 million baht, which operator CP All Public Company will donate to a local hospital.

All about perception?

Despite these reports, there have been growing concerns among critics in the media regarding the perceived environmental benefits of similar plastics initiatives worldwide.

The sippy cup lid adopted in Korea is identical to the design used in North American stores, which was shown in a Reason magazine report last year to use more plastic than the previous lid design and straw put together.

Plastic shopping bag initiatives similar to the one adopted by 7-Eleven have provoked skepticism among observers who point out that of all single-use plastic packaging used throughout supermarkets and convenience stores, the shopping bag is the only item that tends to be reused in the home.

A 2017 report in Australia’s journalism hub The Conversation called getting rid of plastic bags a windfall for supermarkets without much perceptible benefit to the environment. It reasoned that most alternatives that were recyclable ended up in landfills anyway.

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