Sustainable Energy

From Starbucks to McDonald's, these huge businesses are taking action on plastic pollution

ATHENS, GREECE - JUNE 26: Plastic garbage lying on the Aegean sea beach near Athens on June 26, 2018 , Greece.
Milos Bicanski | Getty Images News | Getty Images

From rivers to oceans and forests to city streets, the issue of plastic waste is a serious one.

Europeans, for example, produce 25 million tons of plastic waste per year, according to the European Commission. Less than 30 percent of this is collected for recycling.

2018 has seen a raft of big companies make pledges on their use of plastic. Here, CNBC's "Sustainable Energy" takes a look at some of the most high-profile.


Used plastic bottles are seen at the Evian mineral water plant in Amphion-les-Bains, France.
Jean-Pierre Clatot | AFP | Getty Images

In January, one of the world's most iconic bottled water brands made a substantial pledge on plastic.

Evian said it would produce all its plastic bottles from 100 percent recycled plastic by 2025.


Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

At the beginning of the year, major U.K. supermarket Iceland made a commitment to eliminate plastic packaging from its own label products by 2023.

At the time of the announcement, in January, the frozen food specialist said it had already removed disposable plastic straws from its own-label range.

It added that its new food ranges would use paper-based food trays instead of plastic ones.


A new flat plastic lid that does not need a straw is shown on a cup of Starbucks iced tea in Sausalito, California. 
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Starbucks has laid out plans to get rid of single-use plastic straws from all its stores by 2020.

The coffee giant is also testing a 5 pence (6 cent) paper cup charge at all 950 of its coffeehouses in Britain.


Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

June saw fast food titan McDonald's announce plans to move away from using plastic straws in its U.K. and Ireland restaurants.

The business said it would commence a phased rollout of paper straws in all 1,361 of its sites in the two countries. The transition is set to start in September and will be completed by 2019.



In June, British supermarket Morrisons said it would bring back "traditional" brown paper bags for loose fruit and vegetables.

Brown paper bags made from 100 percent recyclable paper are being rolled out in its 493 stores, and will be fully in place by the end of summer.

The move is set to prevent 150 million small plastic bags from being used each year, according to Morrisons.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings

The Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Norwegian Bliss ship sits docked at the Ogden Point Cruise Terminal in British Columbia, Canada.
James MacDonald | Bloomberg | Getty Images

At the end of July, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings detailed plans to eliminate single-use plastic straws across its fleet of 26 ships.

The company will also ban single-use plastic straws at its two island destinations, Great Stirrup Cay and Harvest Caye, in the Bahamas and Belize respectively.

The firm said the changes would help it get rid of more than 50 million straws across its fleet every year.


Seattle's Space Needle and the downtown skyline.
Carl Larson | Moment | Getty Images

Major businesses aren't the only ones looking to reduce their use of plastic.

This summer saw a ban on the use of plastic straws, utensils and cocktail picks in the city of Seattle come into force.

Under the directive, food service businesses in the city will have to provide customers with "compliant options" such as straws made from compostable paper or compostable plastic, according to Seattle Public Utilities.

If businesses do not comply with the regulations, they could face a fine of $250.