Disability coalition criticises Starbucks’ plastic straw ban

Starbucks has come under fire from a coalition of disability advocacy groups, led by Scottish charity One in Five, saying that a ban on single-use plastic straws proposed by the coffee chain is alienating disabled people.

The company announced the ban in July after continued pressure from environmental campaigners to reduce the consumption of disposable plastic items. However, as many disabled people rely on plastic straws for drinking, the group is calling for Starbucks to lead efforts to develop an alternative which is both convenient for disabled people and environmentally friendly.

Starbucks said it would still provide plastic straws on request, as well as paper alternatives, but in an open letter to CEO Kevin Johnson, the group of disability advocates said this amounted to ‘unnecessary gatekeeping’ and that current alternatives are also not useable with hot drinks.

Louise Edge, Senior Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace, commented: “The companies responsible for distributing masses of single-use plastic items have the resources to innovate products which are truly sustainable and fully fit for purpose – suitable for everyone including the disabled community.”