The Walt Disney Company announced today that they are planning on eliminating single-use straws in all of its owned and operated locations by mid-2019. This will include all of Disney’s theme parks with the exception of Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea.
Disney claims that this elimination amounts to a reduction of more than 175 million straws and 13 million stirrers annually.
Disney appears to be joining the trend that was recently spearheaded by the announcement from Starbucks earlier this month that they would phase out single-use plastic straws from its more than 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020.
In addition to the Walt Disney Company and Starbucks, McDonald’s announced in June that it would scrap plastic straws from restaurant locations in the U.K. and Ireland and replace them with paper straws, starting in September. Vail Resorts, owner of Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe and sister resorts in Colorado, Utah, British Columbia, Vermont and the Midwest, has also banned plastic straws.
“Eliminating plastic straws and other plastic items are meaningful steps in our long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Bob Chapek, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products. “These new global efforts help reduce our environmental footprint, and advance our long-term sustainability goals.”
For guests staying at Disney hotels or traveling on Disney cruise ships, there are additional changes coming.
Over the next several years there will be a transition to refillable in-room amenities, a move that is expected to reduce plastic by 80 percent, the company estimates. This has been rumored to be going property-wide for a while now after Walt Disney World had previously begun implementing this at some of its resorts earlier.
Disney also said they plan on reducing the number of single-use plastic shopping bags in owned and operated parks and on cruise ships, offering guests the option to purchase reusable bags.
It will be interesting how guests respond to the new straw policy. I personally don’t care whether I have a straw with my drinks. I only use the plastic ones Disney provides at sit-down restaurants because they toss it at my glass. I refuse to use the paper ones because I find that they don’t last a meal and that they disintegrate in my beverage. While I do use the plastic straws at quick-service restaurants, I’ll adapt and just not use anything. There are people that I know that cannot drink anything with ice in it without a straw or use a straw with any drink either out of preference or necessity. How these guests respond is anyone’s guess. Many people have already mentioned that they’ll bring their own straws, some reusable, some not.
I personally wouldn’t be surprised if at some time in the near future Disney starts selling Disney themed/branded re-usable straws in its parks.
Equally interesting will be the implementation of the “decreased number of single-use plastic shopping bags” in the parks. I suspect that what’s probably going to happen is purchased items won’t automatically be placed in a bag and that guests will be asked if they want a bag. At that point they will be offered the “opportunity” to purchase a re-usable bag. I imagine Disney will still have to use bags for guests that want purchased items transported to the front of the parks to be picked up later or if guests want their items sent back to their resort.
Okay….now it is time for my cynical take on this.
I’m sure some part of the Disney Company is doing this for the sole concern of the environment. I have no doubt that this is contributing to the decision. I suspect that the biggest reason for this decision is financial and if there is a PR win that comes with it…so be it.
Look at it this way…
Disney spends a lot of money having someone make straws for all of their restaurants and beverage carts. They know that with this change people will use fewer straws provided by Disney, even the paper straws. People will just use less of them. This means Disney spends less money.
The same in regards to the bags. Some guests will decide not to use bags or will purchase the re-usable bags. Again, less money spent on plastic bags.
If in fact Disney decides to offer Disney-themed or branded re-usable straws this is a new found revenue stream. Also, Disney mentioned that instead of plastic bags they will “offer” re-usable bags. We all know that this means “sell” don’t we? Again…a new revenue stream.
So, Disney spends less money, finds new revenue streams and they come off as environmentally friendly. It’s a win-win-win situation.