As fast food businesses move more towards environmentally-friendly practices, we will see changes in how our food is packaged and served. As it stands, most of these companies are already going green behind the counter, but now you’ll notice the impact when you order.

Starbucks is one of those companies. On Monday, they announced that they’ll be phasing out plastic straws by 2020 in its 28,000 global locations. In a move to cut down on plastic pollution, they will be replacing straws with recyclable plastic lids designed for drinking.

In response to criticism of their use of plastic lids and disabled customers’ need for straws, Starbucks posted these messages on Twitter:

“Unlike cups or lids, recycling straws just isn’t possible because of their weight and size, despite the very best intentions.”

“We will still offer a straw option in stores, made of an alternative material such as paper or compostable plastic. Customers will be able to request this straw if they prefer or need one, and it will come standard with Frappuccino blended beverages.”

On top of this announcement, the city of Seattle’s (where Starbucks headquarters is located) ban on plastic straws went into effect on July 1. Restaurants and other businesses where food and drinks are sold must do away with plastic flatware and straws.

Concerns about the impact of plastic pollution on our oceans and marine wildlife continue to mount, and businesses and cities like Seattle, Los Angeles, and Miami have been making efforts to reduce the use of the material where they can with policy changes.

In addition, we are seeing innovative companies create biodegradable products that can take the place of standard package. Items like beer can rings, cutlery, compostable cups with lids, and food wrappers made from seaweed are on the market.

Starbucks is on a list of other major brands looking to eliminate or drastically reduce their plastic footprint within the next five to seven years. Others include McDonald’s, Hyatt, PepsiCo, and L’Oréal.

According to a study highlighted by National Geographic, it takes 400 years for plastic to break down and only 12% is destroyed by burning. The rest ends up as litter, in landfills, or as nearly 10 billion metric tons of waste in the world’s oceans.

Starbucks’s motivation came from both consumers and within the company, where concerns about wildlife and the environment have influenced opinions. While straws may seem like a small difference, it’s estimated that fish and other animals in or outside of the human food chain that ingest pieces of them are harmed.

That can affect the seafood you eat too. Even a small ban like this will make a dent. Need convincing? You can also check out some of the horrific videos on animals affected by straws and other plastics online.

Scientists have been advocating for change for a reason. To find out when you can expect to see the changes go into effect at your local Starbucks, click on the video below.

Are you a Starbucks customer and how do you feel about the ban? Do think policies like this are necessary and impactful?