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One of the Biggest Food Companies in the World Is Cutting 100 Million Plastic Straws By 2020

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The consensus seems to be growing that plastic straws suck. And with McDonald's and Starbucks pledging to decrease their reliance on single-use plastics, it shouldn't be a surprise that other large players in the industry are following suit. The latest company to declare war on the Great Pacific Garbage patch is food-service giant Aramark, which supplies all manner of plastic goods to sports venues, hospitals and schools. 

Aramark is a behemoth, providing upwards of 2 billion meals across 19 countries annually. It's new commitment will see single-use plastic straws reduced by 100 million throughout the world by 2020, the company said in a press release on Wednesday. When it comes to public support for eschewing plastic utensils, Aramark heeded advice: After issuing a customer survey, "the majority (60%) of respondents are concerned with the overuse of plastic and nearly 80% are trying to reduce personal consumption by recycling and reusing plastic bottles and bags. The primary environmental concern is the impact on marine life and oceans."

The company will begin experimenting with eco-friendly alternatives starting in September, and the main cutbacks to plastic straws will primarily affect university dining halls. The company expects a 30% to 60% reduction across hundreds of K-12 schools, sports venues and healthcare facilities. Currently, the company claims to provide 370,000,000 annual school meals internationally, which is a lot of cafeteria food. In the release, Aramark acknowledged the pressing need to keep straws available for people with disabilities, especially in hospitals.

The company's CEO, Eric Foss said of the decision: "Aramark shares our guests’ passion to protect and preserve our oceans. Today’s announcement provides an opportunity to make meaningful achievements in minimizing our environmental impact, while continuing to deliver experiences that enrich and nourish lives.” 

It might seem like an attempt to appear eco-friendly in the face of so may similar pledges from the likes of McDonald's and Starbucks, but the directive is likely to change the way food is served in public settings in a pretty big way. 

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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Esquire. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster.