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Drive To Eliminate Plastic Straws Gains Momentum

In the spirit of Independence Day, here’s an update to the story in our last Fortnightly on chains declaring themselves free of plastic straws (or on the path to do so).

In June, A&W Food Services of Canada marked World Oceans Day by pledging to eliminate plastic straws from all of its 925 restaurants by the end of 2018. A&W is the first quick-service chain in North America to make this commitment. It will offer customers compostable, sustainably sourced paper straws which last two to three hours in a drink without breaking down, but naturally biodegrade in three to six months.

“Introducing packaging innovations that reduce waste is key to A&W's environmental strategy,” says Tyler Pronyk, A&W Canada's Director of Distribution, Equipment & Packaging. “By using compostable packaging, real mugs, plates and cutlery, we are diverting millions of single-use packaging from landfills every year.”

Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, which operates 120 restaurants across nine states, plans to be plastic-straw-free by October 1 and shift to the use of biodegradable alternatives and all-natural straws made of hay, or wheat stems, and bamboo.

The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille, based in Columbia, Md., has banned plastic straws from its 46 locations. The U.S. division of Italian restaurant-and-retail chain Eataly will remove plastic straws from all locations by the end of July. Also shifting to paper straws on request are the 45-unit Atlanta-based chain Ted’s Montana Grill and Phoenix-based Fox Restaurant Concepts, which operates close to 50 restaurants under 13 brands.

Leading them all is Dallas-based Snappy Salads, which banned the use of plastic straws in 2014.

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