Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Idiotic Thinking Behind the Elimination of Plastic Straws By Starbucks

 Starbucks announced on Monday that it would be going strawless.

"This is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways," said Starbucks Kevin Johnson CEO in a press release announcing the move.

This is just idiotic thinking, vacant of any basic understanding of the economics of waste.

Why should something be sustainable? There is a cost to sustainability. This is basic economics. Some things just become waste after we use them because it is cost prohibitive to recycle them. There is nothing magical about recyclability. Sometimes it makes sense other times it doesn't. We don't throw away diamonds after they lose their sentimental value. We recycle them by selling them to a jeweler.

A used straw, on the other hand, becomes simply throwaway waste. The cost benefit to recycle straws is too expensive, otherwise straws would be getting recycled already. Basic economics.

To think that modern day Americans who use indoor flushing toilets on a daily basis do not know how to get rid of waste is absurd.

In major U.S. cities, where tons of waste are removed on a daily basis, beyond flushing toilets, Americans are used to hearing the grinding sound of waste removal trucks every night.

According to Statsia, revenues generated by waste removal in the year 2016 came in at $60 billion in this country.

Does Starbucks seriously think that the waste industry has a unique problem removing plastic straws?

There is a plastics in the ocean problem but this is not an American problem. In fact, according to the Daily Mail:
Up to 95 per cent of plastic polluting the world's oceans pours in from just ten rivers...The top 10 rivers - eight of which are in Asia - accounted for so much plastic because of the mismanagement of waste....

Dr Christian Schmidt, a hydrogeologist at Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig, Germany, said: 'A substantial fraction of marine plastic debris originates from land-based sources and rivers potentially act as a major transport pathway for all sizes of plastic debris.'...He said: 'The 10 top-ranked rivers transport 88-95 per cent of the global load into the sea.'

The study follows a recent report that pointed the finger at China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam for spewing out most of the plastic waste that enters the seas.

The Yangtze has been estimated in previous research to dump some 727 million pounds of plastic into the sea each year. The Ganges River in India is responsible for even more - about 1.2 billion pounds.

A combination of the Xi, Dong and Zhujiang Rivers (233 million lbs per year) in China as well as four Indonesian rivers: the Brantas (85 million lbs annually), Solo (71 million pounds per year), Serayu (37 million lbs per year) and Progo (28 million lbs per year), are all large contributors.

Previous research has also suggested two-thirds of plastic comes from the 20 most contaminated rivers. But Dr Schmidt reckons this can be narrowed down even further.

He said: 'The rivers with the highest estimated plastic loads are characterised by high population - for instance the Yangtze with over half a billion people.

'These rivers are also in countries with a high rate of mismanaged plastic waste (MMPW) production per capita as a result of a not fully implemented municipal waste management including waste collection, dumping and recycling."
This is, as Schmidt indicates, a waste management problem among some major Asian countries. Drilling even deeper, it is a problem casued by the failure to privatize rivers and oceans (See: Water Capitalism: The Case for Privatizing Oceans, Rivers, Lakes, and Aquifers by  Walter E. Block an Peter L. Nelson)

That said, there is no waste removal problem in America. There is harassment of Americans by busybodies and nutjobs who want to make rules and decisions for everyone. And sometimes these whackjobs leak into the private sector when the masses are truly confused. So in one way, I am not surprised that an American company that calls its regular coffee "grande," would venture into public good posturing to the masses about straws!

It sucks.



  1. Thank you, Robert, for a clear and understandable explanation of the "problem", or rather the lack thereof.

  2. Funny that all that waste comes from mostly 'turd' world countries that can't seem get their crap together, yet libertardians want to import more of these 'natural libertarians'.

    Hopefully we can go to paper straws. There is way too much plastic waste even in America.

  3. If starbucks cared about reducing waste they wouldn't charge me the same amount for a coffee when I bring my travel mug in. No straw, no plastic/paper coated in who knows what cup to throw away and they don't do anything to encourage that from their customers.

  4. I note that China, India and Vietnam have all been socialist for decades. I will point this out to the SJWs I know and accuse them of seeking ecocide as part of their life's plan. If you aren't trying to bring about mass murder, mass poverty and ecocide, what's the point for being a socialist?

  5. Starbucks has built their entire business model around Virtue Signalling, so they probably know what they're doing. Anyway hipsters and SWPL women - the bulk of the SB target market - just eat this stuff up.