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Delta Air Lines is planning to replace plastic straws and stirrers with bamboo and birch wood versions next year, mirroring a broader industry trend to reduce single-use plastics amid concerns over the impact to wildlife and the broader environment.
Starting in mid-2019, Delta, the second-largest U.S. airline, which flies more than 180 million passengers a year, will stop wrapping amenities kits for international business class travelers in plastic and stop using plastic straws and stirring sticks throughout the cabin, the airline said Wednesday. Delta said it has already taken similar steps in its lounges and in April started rolling plastic utensils for coach-class meals in a napkin instead of in plastic.
The shift away from such plastic items on board and in lounges is taking hold across the airline industry. United Airlines, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have announced similar steps this year.
The restaurant and packaged food industries are also seeking alternatives to single-use plastic straws or plastic packaging. Starbucks, for example, in July said it would eliminate plastic straws from its cafes by 2020. A ban on plastic straws, utensils and cocktail picks went into effect in Seattle, where Starbucks is headquartered, that month.
Environmental groups have ramped up pressure on governments to ditch plastic, warning that much of it ends up in the ocean, hurting wildlife.
Earlier this week, the U.K. government laid out plans to ban the sale of plastic straws and stirrers.