Have recently seen this claim circulating Facebook:

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The image goes to a post by a group called UnbiasedAmerica... but it looks like the original source article is the story Starbucks Bans Plastic Straws, Winds Up Using More Plastic from the Reason Foundation, a group I hadn't heard of before.

The central claim appears to be measurements by the article's author that:

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.

But I couldn't find any independent confirmation one way or the other. So is the claim true? (And if so are there any other important details that mitigate the claim, such as biodegradability??)

  • 6
    I think in this case the issue with straws is not the amount of plastic that is used but what happens to it after it is used.
    – Joe W
    Jul 15, 2018 at 18:37
  • 1
    I agree with Joe. Straws much more often end up in the environment, compared to lids in recycling. At least that would be the mitigating claim.
    – GEdgar
    Jul 15, 2018 at 18:59
  • 2
    @JoeW The Reason article disagrees with that: "The weight of plastic—not [...] whether those objects are recyclable—is what should really concern environmentalists." They do concede that the new lids are recyclable while straws are not. But they also claim that recyclable plastic isn't actually recycled, and instead ends up in a landfill. Though as GEdgar points out, and Reason agrees, non-recyclable straws often don't even end up there, but in the environment. The entire argument seems a bit unreasonable to me, and the exact grams of plastic seem not to matter much compared to other issues.
    – tim
    Jul 15, 2018 at 19:41
  • 4
    I'm picking up another claim here: that straws are more likely to end up as pollution instead of managed in a waste facility. What is this based on?
    – user11643
    Jul 15, 2018 at 20:52
  • 5
    Isn't that what they call a strawman argument? ;-)
    – gerrit
    Jul 16, 2018 at 10:11


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