Disney to phase out plastic straws, stirrers at all locations

The company also plans to cut down on plastic bags and cups

ORLANDO, Fla.-Walt Disney Company announced plans to reduce its waste by phasing out single-use plastic straws and plastic stirrers from all Disney-owned and operated locations across the globe by mid-2019 Thursday. The initiative is expected to amount to a reduction of more than 175 million straws and 13 million stirrers annually, says the company.

“Eliminating plastic straws and other plastic items are meaningful steps in our long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products. “These new global efforts help reduce our environmental footprint, and advance our long-term sustainability goals.”

In addition to the straw ban, the company announced it will also be transitioning to refillable in-room amenities in its hotels and cruise ships. Disney plans to further reduce its plastic waste by offering guests reusable bags for purchase and working to eliminate polystyrene cups across the board.

“These steps are part of our long-term effort to reduce single-use plastics, and we will continue recycling and responsibly disposing single-use waste that cannot be eliminated,” said Mark Denning, vice president of Disney’s Animals Science and Environment, in a press release.

Disney is just the latest company to retire plastic straws in an effort to reduce pollution. Starbucks announced earlier this month plans to go strawless and transition to "sippy cup" designs by 2022. McDonald’s pledged to convert from plastic to paper straws at all of its locations in the United Kingdom and Ireland by September. Hyatt, American Airlines and SeaWorld Entertainment are also on the list. Seattle and Miami Beach are among the cities that have banned use of plastic straws at food service businesses like restaurants and grocery stores.

Disney World parkgoers seemed overall supportive of the company’s efforts to cutdown on plastic waste. News 6’s Nadeen Yanes spoke with tourists about their thoughts on the announcement.

“It could be massive. They are like one of the biggest companies in the world, so hopefully it could change the world like environmentally,” Peter Sabato from California said.

Melanie Cook, who was visiting Disney World from London, was surprised to see “how much plastic is still being used here” in the U.S.

“I think it's a good thing,” Cook said. “Obviously [plastic’s] not good for the planet. There is lots in the news in the moment about the damage it does to the environment, so it's a good thing to not use them.”

According to National Geographic, about 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans yearly. Movements like The Last Plastic Straw are working to raise awareness about plastic waste and promote eco-friendly alternatives to the traditional single-use plastic straw.