The Last Straw : Planet Money Starbucks, Ikea, Vancouver, Scotland: They've all banned plastic straws. The movement is meant to help reduce plastic waste in the ocean. But will it work, or will it backfire?
NPR logo The Last Straw

The Last Straw

The green Starbucks straw is an endangered species.
Constanza Gallardo/NPR

There's a global movement right now to get rid of the plastic straw. Scotland, Vancouver and Taiwan have all put bans in place. So have companies like IKEA, Alaska Airlines and Starbucks. The idea is to start reducing the amount of plastic waste in our oceans. Straws are far from the biggest source of plastic pollution, but it's a start, right? Well... maybe. New research shows that the straw ban could really help the global plastic problem, or could really backfire.

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Correction July 13, 2018

In an earlier version of this episode, we said that Americans use 500 million straws every day. That number has been cited in many different places, including by the National Park Service. But the data on plastic straw use in the U.S. are hard to pin down. Other estimates have said the number is less but still in the tens or hundreds of millions.