sweeping across the country—and
world—aimed at eliminating the
single-use plastic straw. Too small
to be recycled, most straws end up
in landfills and clogging waterways; according to the Ocean Conservancy, they’re among the most
frequently found items in beach
cleanups. In July, Seattle became
the first major U.S. city to fully ban
plastic straws. New York City and
When Starbucks began
developing a new nitrogen-infused cold-brew coffee back in 2016, it realized
it had a problem. The allure of the
drink was its creamy, frothy top
(much like that of a Guinness), but
the traditional way of consuming
cold coffee—through a straw—
starts at the bottom. To showcase
its Nitro Cold Brew, the company
had to create an entirely new lid:
a strawless design that resembles
something like an adult sippy cup.
Shortly into the development
process, Starbucks discovered that
it wasn’t just coming up with a solution for its nitro drinks. Today, that
somewhat dorky lid is helping the
coffee juggernaut eliminate plastic
straws across its nearly 30,000 global
outposts. Beginning in 2020, all cold
drinks at Starbucks will be served
with either the new lids or (in the
case of thicker, blended beverages)
paper or compostable straws.
That puts Starbucks out in front
of a wave of ordinances that are
Zunum Aero expects to boost regional
air travel with hybrid-electric planes.
Just as important: It encourages
customers to consider the impact
of their daily choices. “[We] look to
make decisions that have a positive
effect in the industry, which other
companies can leverage,” says Colleen Chapman, vice president of
global social impact at Starbucks.
In other words, this could be the
lid that broke the straw’s back.
;AM Y FARLE Y
24 FASTCOMPAN Y.COM SEPTEMBER 2018 Photograph by Celine Grouard
How Starbucks came
up with an alternative to
gas-electric technology is similar to what
you’ll find in a Prius.
batteries in the wings
To increase the distance
the plane can fly, a gas
turbine powers a generator
the batteries mid-flight.
Electric propulsion is quieter and
quicker than gas: Zunum’s planes
require 40% less runway than larger
aircraft, ideal for small airports.
Hopping a flight from San Francisco
to Los Angeles can be an expensive
journey through crowded airports.
Aviation startup Zunum Aero, backed
by Boeing and JetBlue, hopes to make
regional travel more accessible with
a hybrid-electric aircraft that could
take advantage of underutilized
hubs—and pass fuel savings on to fliers. Buoyed by an order of 100 planes
from private jet company JetSuite,
Zunum plans to have its planes in the
air by 2022. Here’s how they’ll work.
Airport turnaround time could
be as short as
10 minutes while
the easily accessible batteries are
for fresh ones.
To account for technological advances,
California are mulling their own
bans. The European Commission is
considering one. And the U.K. is preparing to phase out straws as well.
With Starbucks responsible for
using an estimated 2 billion plastic
straws annually, according to the
nonprofit As You Sow, the company’s commitment to finding a way
to eliminate them entirely sends a
strong signal to other businesses.