plastic

San Francisco may become the next U.S. city to ban plastic straws. The city's board of supervisors approved the ban on a preliminary basis last week and the final decision is on its agenda Tuesday. That has shops that sell boba, or bubble tea – a drink that has to be sucked through a straw – concerned.

Bubble tea is typically served in a big plastic cup over ice. It has balls of tapioca at the bottom the size of small marbles. You use a wide straw to suck up the tapioca — or boba — from the bottom of the cup.

When a huge floating gyre of plastic waste was discovered in the Pacific in the late 1980s, people were shocked. When whales died and washed ashore with stomachs full of plastic, people were horrified. When photographs of beaches under knee-deep carpets of plastic trash were published, people were disgusted.

Though some of it came from ships, most, presumably, was from land. But how much was coming from where?

People are talking a lot about plastic straws these days — how international corporations like Starbucks and Marriott International are banning them, and the deleterious impact they have on the environment.

The University of Georgia recently released a study showing that an estimated 111 million metric tons of plastic garbage will pile up around the world by 2030. Plastic waste that could be recycled ends up in the oceans and in landfills, and there are plastics that can’t be recycled at all.

Starbucks: Goodbye, Plastic Straws

Jul 9, 2018

Starbucks announced on Monday it plans to eliminate plastic straws from its 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020.

The company will broaden the manufacture and use of what some in social media have dubbed the "adult sippy cup." It's a plastic strawless lid that will come to replace single-use plastic straws that now inundate its coffee shops.

From June to September, monsoon rains fall on Mumbai, India's largest city, delivering relief from stifling heat and vital nourishment to surrounding farmland. But they also bring an unwelcome visitor: Tons of garbage wash up on the city's shores.

When Mumbai floods, the water flushes waste out of city streets, storm drains and slums and sends it to the Arabian Sea. Then the tides ebb and blanket the beaches in that trash — most of it, plastic.

And now the government is taking action with a ban on plastics.