The Walt Disney Company will get rid of single-use plastic straws and plastic stirrers at all its properties by mid-2019, the company said Thursday. This will affect all parks, except Disney Tokyo. The measure will reduce the use of 175 million straws and 13 million stirrers annually.
Disney has followed Starbucks' lead after the coffee giant announced earlier this month that they would ban single-use plastic straws at its 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020.
“Eliminating plastic straws and other plastic items are meaningful steps in our long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Bob Chapek, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products. “These new global efforts help reduce our environmental footprint, and advance our long-term sustainability goals.”
Disney will also institute other changes at its hotels and on its cruise ships. The company is hoping to make the transition from disposable in-room plastic products, such as shampoos and conditioners, to refillable amenities. The company hopes to reduce plastic by 80 percent. They will also attempt to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags at its parks and on its cruise ships. Guests will be offered the option of buying reusable bags.
“Disney has always been inspired by nature -- and it is a uniquely powerful brand that inspires, educates, and entertains, all at the same time,” said Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International, a non-profit that works with Disney on environmental and sustainability initiatives.
“Today’s announcement is more than about reducing single-use plastic waste, it’s also about showing millions of kids and adults from around the world the many ways we can change our daily habits to care for the oceans and protect nature that sustains us all," Sanjayan said. "It also builds on Disney’s longstanding commitment to conservation and environmental stewardship, a legacy that stretches from the highlands of Peru to the islands of the South Pacific.”
Disney and Starbucks have been joined by McDonald's in their efforts to reduce plastic. In June, the fast-food chain said it would eliminate plastic straws at its UK and Ireland restaurant locations. These would be replaced with paper straws in September. Vail Resorts, owner of Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe and sister resorts in Colorado, Utah, British Columbia, Vermont and the Midwest, has also prohibited plastic straws.
The US disposes of 500 million single-use plastic straws every day. According to the National Park Service, Americans use an average rate of 1.6 straws per person per day, which translates into 175 billion straws a year. Only 14% of plastic packaging is gathered for recycling, and "a staggering 32% of plastic packaging escapes collection systems," a 2016 study by the World Economic Forum revealed.