Alaska Airlines ends use of non-recyclable plastic straws

Alaska Airlines ends use of non-recyclable plastic straws
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Alaska Airlines is phasing out single-use, non-recyclable plastic stir straws in favor of compostable versions made of white birch, the airline announced Monday.

“Plastic is a serious issue for our planet. What’s important is continuing to move the global supply chain toward making sustainable materials accessible and affordable,” Shaunta Hyde, managing director of Alaska Airlines, said in a statement to USA Today.

Though some global airlines have made pledges to gradually reduce the use of such items, Alaska Airlines is the first in the U.S. to eliminate them altogether, according to USA Today.

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In a statement detailing the change, Alaska Airlines said “plastic straws are of special concern because they cannot be recycled and they’ve been shown to kill birds and other marine life.”

After distributing roughly 22 million plastic stir straws and citrus picks on its flights and in its lounges in 2017, the airline said it hopes the transition to more sustainable versions will make a difference.

The airline also announced it will introduced non-plastic, marine-friendly drinking straws to customers who request them. Hyde added that although Alaska has yet to select a compostable alternative for those, the airline “will be using a product that is marine-friendly.”

Alaska Airlines has also partnered with environmental group Lonely Whale for the effort with straws and citrus picks.

“Plastic pollution is causing devastating marine life issues with plastic now found in the bellies of whales, turtles, and more including seabirds, of which 99 percent of all species are expected to have ingested plastic by the year 2050,” Lonely Whale executive director Dune Ives said in statement to Today in the Sky

“The banning of single-use plastic beverage straws sets a new standard for the travel industry, and we couldn’t be happier that Alaska Airlines is the first U.S. airline to lead the charge,” Ives added in the carrier's media statement.