MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Marriott Ditching Plastic Straws, Still Not Sure What It Will Use Instead

The hotel chain says it will eliminate roughly 1 billion plastic straws by July 2019.

Lucian Milasan/Dreamstime.comLucian Milasan/Dreamstime.comThe world's largest hotel chain said today it will stop using plastic straws and drink stirrers by next July, though it's still trying to come up with a viable alternative.

Marriott International, which owns and operates about 6,500 hotels and resorts around the world, says the move "could eliminate the use of more than 1 billion plastic straws per year and about a quarter billion stirrers," according to a press release. Marriott President and CEO Arne Sorenson touted the plan as "a powerful step forward to reducing our reliance on plastics," while the company's release said the initiative represents part of Marriott's "commitment to reducing its environmental impact."

But it's not clear what Marriott customers will use instead of plastic straws, as the company said individual hotels will figure that out over the next year.

Marriott is far from the first company to announce plans to stop using plastic straws. Starbucks, the nation's largest food and drink retailer, said last week it would be going strawless by 2020. Other companies caught up in the strawless craze include American Airlines and the Hilton and Hyatt hotel chains. Meanwhile, Seattle became the first U.S. city to ban plastic straws in July, and there are active attempts to implement similar bans in New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon.

Various Marriott hotels in the United Kingdom, Costa Rica, Hawaii, and Australia have already gotten rid of plastic straws. And in March, the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort in Florida opted to replace plastic straws with biodegradable paper ones. Amanda Cox, the Florida resort's director of sales and marketing, told the Associated Press that prior to ditching them, the hotel used about 65,000 plastic straws every month.

Over the next year, it's certainly possible that other Marriotts will decide to use eco-friendly straws as well. But that might not be such a great idea, as Reason's Christian Britschgi notes:

Why not use more eco-friendly disposable straws? Because they are terrible. Paper straws are known to collapse halfway through a drink. Compostable straws cost six to seven times more than their plastic alternatives, don't keep for long, and fall apart when exposed to high heat.

And as Starbucks recently proved, some nifty alternatives to plastic straws, like strawless nitro lids, don't actually use less plastic. According to Britschgi:

Right now, Starbucks patrons are topping most of their cold drinks with either 3.23 grams or 3.55 grams of plastic product, depending on whether they pair their lid with a small or large straw. The new nitro lids meanwhile weigh either 3.55 or 4.11 grams, depending again on lid size.

As a private company, Marriott is of course well within its rights to ditch plastic straws, but it is hardly helping the environment by doing so. Straws are a tiny fraction of the plastic waste that makes its way into the ocean. Most of the straws that do wind up in the water are the result of littering or poor waste management. If Marriott really wants to make an environmental splash, it should focus its efforts on ensuring that the straws its guests do use end up in the trash, as opposed to getting rid of the little suckers completely.

Photo Credit: Lucian Milasan/Dreamstime.com

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    How many other industries can say they were laid low by a nine-year-old?

  • Hackmaschine Mutter||

    This is the sad, hysterical backstory that is not getting the attention it deserves.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    The worst part is that 9 year old will grow up eventually. What kind of person is he likely become after being patted on the back and constantly told how awesome he is because he got straws banned based on some shoddy, scientifically dubious (a better adjective may be "completely bogus bullshit") school project? I shudder to think of the kind of SJW ubermench that will be created.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Did the kid at least fail that project? Because 500 million straws per day is such an obviously incorrect number that I would hope any competent teacher would say, "No. That can't be right." Maybe look through the kid's work, point out where he went wrong and make him start over. But then I think about how many people have just uncritically accepted that number and I just smash myself in the face with a hammer because it's less painful than thinking about that.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Did the kid at least fail that project?

    Sadly, he probably got an A+ and 500 million gold stars (one for each straw that he dubiously claims is thrown out every day).

  • Zeb||

    And all of the gold stars are made of plastic and are currently floating around in the Pacific ocean.

  • Echo Chamber||

    Plus guaranteed admission to the college of xis choice

  • HeteroPatriarch||

    Only if it's one of the seven sisters.

  • Echo Chamber||

    Marriott claims above to be eliminating a billion straws, and that's just one hotel chain.
    Linking U.S. straw usage to ocean debris is rather tenuous, to be polite.

  • Cloudbuster||

    That's BS, unless they're throwing away boxes of unused straws.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Also, Marriott is a world-wide corp and those are world-wide numbers on the outside chance that number is true. But it's not true.

    Also from their press release "A single plastic straw – which might be used for about 15 minutes – will never fully decompose." False.

  • Echo Chamber||

    There's something like 5700 Marriott hotels, so that's about 500 straws per hotel per day. Questionable math, but some of those hotels are in shithole countries, so at least some of the reduction will actually stay out of the ocean. It's still a BS cause to focus upon.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Per year, not per day.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    And yet the kid's study that this is all based on claimed that Americans throw out 500 million (half a billion) per day. So Marriott, a major hotel chain, is only claiming to save twice the number of straws that Americans allegedly throw out PER DAY in one year? Further evidence that the 500 million straws per day number doesn't pass the smell test.

  • Zeb||

    Reminds me of when NH decided to have an official state fruit and were successfully lobbied by a class of elementary school students to make it the pumpkin. Which as far as I can tell is only because it was close to Halloween, so kids had pumpkins on their minds.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

  • Citizen X||

    Some folks will cure diseases or create amazing works of art; others will just make it harder to drink a Slurpee.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    In some ways I kind of feel bad for the kid. While other kids are just being normal kids, he's wasting his childhood on some idiotic moral crusade based on a bullshit study he did using scientifically dubious methods.

    But then I remember that he chose this, so to hell with him if he wants to waste the few years he has to just be a kid on some dumb moral crusade instead.

  • Zeb||

    But he's just a kid. Where was the adult in his life to slap him upside the head and tell him to get his dick in the dirt?

  • Cloudbuster||

    In a decade or two this kid will be making all our lives miserable as an activist for the Center for Science in the Public Interest or some other whackjob group.

  • ||

    If Marriott really wants to make an environmental splash, it should focus its efforts on ensuring that the straws its guests do use end up in the trash, as opposed to getting rid of the little suckers completely.

    Can we move on? The zeitgeist has spoken! There's really no downside to riding this wave. Everyone will have their FEELZ boosted. No one has to spend any more money. Tears will not be shed for steamrollered consumers.

    OK yes, calling out stupid is fun. But can we at least limit it to one straw post a week at this point?

  • ||

    But can we at least limit it to one straw post a week at this point?

    You're being too close-minded. Can we at least limit it to one straw post by anyone other than Kristin Tate a week?

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    No.

    We need moar strawmen.

  • Echo Chamber||

    The clown panic has returned, now it's the straws that are to be feared

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Can we move on? The zeitgeist has spoken! There's really no downside to riding this wave.

    No. Because the straws are just the beginning. From the earlier article today:

    Straws, Ives says, made the perfect target: too inconsequential to really be missed but so ubiquitous that their absence would be noticed. "To us, it was the 'gateway plastic' to the larger, more serious plastic pollution conversation," says Ives

    Today it's straws, tomorrow it'll be the drink lids (especially once some other precocious 9 year old points out how much more plastic is in those and there's eleventy-billion of them thrown out each day or some shit), then eventually everything else.

    "First they cam for the straws, and I said nothing ..."

  • Rhywun||

    To be fair, the earlier article is a retread from yesterday. So only one straw post so far today.

  • ||

    Still Not Sure What It Will Use Instead

    I nominate keratin and/or chitin straws. People can stir their coffee using people's clipped toenails and sip their sodas through smelly lobster tails.

    Of course, then we'll just end up with 500 million toenail and lobster tail straws floating in our oceans every day, but it will be OK because it's already filled with keratin and chitin and only the most devout gaiaists will know the difference and feel bad about it.

  • Don't look at me.||

    What's the over/under on how long before straws are unbanned?

  • Sevo||

    Pretty sure this sort of BS ratchets one way only; in the not too distant future, this will be sung to the heavens as a triumph of the enviros!

  • Agammamon||

    la lala!

  • ||

    Pretty sure this sort of BS ratchets one way only; in the not too distant future, this will be sung to the heavens as a triumph of the enviros!

    I was of the opposite mind. It will quietly be forgotten and then reversed/ignored in a fashion that lets enviros continue to act like they're doing something good without actually changing anything. Half the drinking fountains I use of the water bottle fillers on the top hilariously noting that they've saved something like 1-200 plastic bottles from being dumped in the ocean since they were installed and powered up more than a decade ago. I know that a couple of plastic bag bans had failed recently and plenty of enviros were lamenting that some of the bans wound up as more of a revenue stream than an actual way to decrease litter and clean up the environment.

    When did plastic bottles get unbanned? When did plastic bags get unbanned?

  • Rhywun||

    Recycling has been bullshit for how long now and I only see it ratcheting in the direction of more intrusion. The only instance I know of it moving in reverse was when Bloomberg first became NYC mayor and he stopped metal and/or plastic recycling - the howling from all the usual suspects was so intense it was back within a year and has since been joined by mandatory composting in some areas.

  • ||

    Recycling has been bullshit for how long now and I only see it ratcheting in the direction of more intrusion.

    Yeah. It just seems like we went through a bottle ban and bag ban and I still see people carrying around plastic bottles and the only people I still see using "reusable" bags are generally regarded as fringe weirdos and/or people who've bought into whatever loyalty program the store has monetized the bags into (to offset the cost of a plastic bag tax). I guess when it's all smoke and mirrors, it's hard to say when you've got less smoke and more mirrors.

  • Zeb||

    Where did they ban plastic bottles? Did they start putting everything in glass bottles again or something?

  • HeteroPatriarch||

    That will happen the same time they acknowledge that Carson and Ehrlich's books were bullshit.

  • Mithrandir||

    Jesus, how many articles on straws do we really need?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    1?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    2?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    3....let me finish.....4?

  • Don't look at me.||

    5? It's 5 isn't it? 6?

  • Cloudbuster||

    "Five is right out."

  • Agammamon||

    23?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    500 million.

  • ||

    You mean 1.6 per person per day?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    42

  • Sevo||

    I KNEW someone would hit it.

  • mtrueman||

    "If Marriott really wants to make an environmental splash, it should focus its efforts on ensuring that the straws its guests do use end up in the trash, as opposed to getting rid of the little suckers completely."

    Why not use non disposable straws? The hotel is already using non disposable glasses and plates, so straws isn't much of a stretch.

  • Ron||

    ever try cleaning a straw? how much more energy would be wasted by the cleaning process

  • Cloudbuster||

    We'll end up like that civilization that was wiped out due to improper telephone handset sanitization.

  • perlchpr||

    Alas, Golgafrincham.

  • ||

    how much more energy would be wasted by the cleaning process

    As long as that energy doesn't wind up floating in the ocean, I don't care. /gaia-ista

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Define wasted. Cleaning a metal or glass (probably too delicate) straw would take a bit more than just enough energy to boil the amount of water needed to immerse the straw.

  • Sevo||

    "Define wasted."

    Easy: Cleaning straws.

  • mtrueman||

    "ever try cleaning a straw? "

    Ever try making a bunch of plastic things, using them for a few minutes and then burying them under a golf course?

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|7.18.18 @ 5:20PM|#
    "Ever try making a bunch of plastic things, using them for a few minutes and then burying them under a golf course?"
    Yeah, it's a snap, dipshit.

  • mtrueman||

    I am pleased with your attention. I'm glad you enjoyed my little comment.

  • Cloudbuster||

    it should focus its efforts on ensuring that the straws its guests do use end up in the trash

    Where else are hotel room service and dining room straws likely to end up? I doubt that's a serious problem.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    There's a reason straws are generally not reused.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Yes, and that reason has more to do with the durability of the materials used to make them than it does with how much energy would be needed to clean them.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I can guarantee you that in a commercial setting, making sure a long, thin tube is clean and germ free after use (use which can very from substance to substance) is a very tricky thing to do.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    vary*

  • mtrueman||

    You think you can take the straw from the dispenser on the counter, available to all customers, clapped out, gangrenous, ridden with herpes, put it in your cup and suck on it without contacting any germs?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    As a private company, Marriott is of course well within its rights to ditch plastic straws, but it is hardly helping the environment by doing so.

    It's not about helping the environment, no matter what they claim. It's about virtue signaling and hoping not to draw the ire of the progressive SJW zombie horde.

  • Echo Chamber||

    ^ so much this

    And once they come for your straws, next they'll come for your ...

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Nut milk?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It's gonna make for hilarious board meetings over the next year.

  • Zeb||

    God this is retarded. If people are worried about plastic in the ocean, they need to be helping developing countries that are starting to use lots of plastic also develop better waste management systems.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    No, you attack the .05% of the problem the hardest while ignoring the 99.95% of the problem. Shoot for the stars! Go little or go home.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    No, you attack the .05% of the problem the hardest while ignoring the 99.95% of the problem.

    They don't want to make the same mistake they made with the acid rain problem back in the 1980s. They mandated scrubbers on smokestacks that drastically reduced the amount of Sulfur Dioxide and particulate pollution, largely solving the problem. You don't gin up perpetual outrage and fleece easily duped celebutards by actually solving problems.

  • ||

    You don't gin up perpetual outrage and fleece easily duped celebutards by actually solving problems.

    Right. It's a problem so big that picking up and properly disposing of two pieces of plastic trash every day, despite being mathematically sound, can't possibly solve it.

  • mtrueman||

    "they need to be helping developing countries "

    This is a libertarian web site and that is not a libertarian solution. It's about waste and there is no market solution for waste. There is plenty of supply but not even professional recyclers are demanding it.

  • Zeb||

    As people get more wealthy, there is a lot of demand for not having garbage all over the place. And I think a reasonably libertarian case could be made for laws against littering and dumping trash in rivers and oceans.

  • Sevo||

    "And I think a reasonably libertarian case could be made for laws against littering and dumping trash in rivers and oceans."
    I think you're full of shit.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    For stirrers you use the little wood sticks, and for straws, I'm sure something could be fashioned out of sheep bladder.

  • Cloudbuster||

    I think you just invented the bagpipe!

  • Cloudbuster||

    The stupidity of this fad is mind-boggling. I just shake my head every time another company, celebrity or politician jumps on this clown car of a bandwagon.

  • Tony||

    I had no idea the Kochs had such a stake in Big Straw.

  • ||

    They're in the pillow business too. Your comfort...from the Koch brothers. Be thankful.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Tony derp de derp. Derp de derpity derpy derp. Until one day, the derpa derpa derpaderp. Derp de derp. Da teedily dumb. From the creators of Der, and Tum Ta Tittaly Tum Ta Too, Tony is Da Derp Dee Derp Da Teetley Derpee Derpee Dumb. Rated PG-13.

  • Sevo||

    Tony|7.18.18 @ 11:45AM|#
    "I had no idea the Kochs had such a stake in Big Straw."

    I keep thinking I've read the dumbest thing you could possibly post, and then you prove me wrong.

  • mtrueman||

    Dumb or not, we all enjoy these articles about straws.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|7.18.18 @ 5:29PM|#
    "Dumb or not, we all enjoy these articles about straws."
    And you keep proving how dumb a human can be.

  • mtrueman||

    Do you make any money out of this?

  • Adans smith||

    Women and children hardest hit.

  • Zeb||

    And people with motor control problems.

  • General_Tso||

    I'd like to announce my personal goal of eliminating bendy straw use entirely by 2019.

    Of course, I'm 53 years old and haven't used a straw since high school, as I've always preferred to sip out of a cup or glass. But, I think it's important that I make a useless gesture so I will remain in the (relatively) good graces of the SJW caste.

  • Brian||

    Obviously, straws will be replaced with thick, reusable plastic slurping mechanisms that look strangely like huge dildos.

    And a certain segment of the population will absolutely love it.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Well, you need to hydrate after working out with your Shake Weight!

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Hawt.

  • Cloudbuster||

    I just knew that already existed, but somehow I still wasn't ready to actually see it. There are, thankfully, no images of the product in use.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    Big logging at work! Computers are killing the paper industry so they needed to find alternative products like paper straws. Hug a tree and don't support plastic straw ban.

  • Ekke Ekke Ptang Zoo Boing||

    "...opposed to getting rid of the little suckers completely."

    AAAAYYY

  • Brandybuck||

    Well that will certainly save the planet! Kudos!

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    How about hemp straws?

  • Cloudbuster||

    I'm in favor of disposable straws made from White Rhino bones.

  • John B. Egan||

    When i was kid we did not have plastic straws.... We had 'single use' paper straws... They work fine. In fact when I was younger, I lived in Europe and the only available straw was a real 'reed' straw.. Sanitized and wrapped. There are plenty of options. Plastic waste is an immense problem... and this is just really an awareness issue. Clearly you can't make people make sensible choices without the dimwit brigade running around the street in a high frolic over it.

  • Sevo||

    "Plastic waste is an immense problem."
    You are bull of shit.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online