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Eliminating The Use Of Plastic Straw to Preserve The Environment (On The Example Of Starbucks)

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Plastic straws which come with most beverages end up in the ocean and have a negative effect on species. Though this might not be seen as a lot, when its usage is added up, plastic straws create a big problem for the environment. Environmental pollution as defined by Vinay is the effect of undesirable changes in our surroundings that have harmful effects on plants, animals, and human beings.

Straws have a negative impact on the environment because they cannot be easily recycled. Hugh concluded that daily use of plastic straws is about 500 million and also concluded that it takes up to 20 years for plastic straw to decompose. This is because plastic straws are made from type 5 plastic or polypropylene and because they cannot be recycled, the end up in the ocean killing 1 million seabirds and 100,000marine animals.

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In essence, Starbucks identified the issue of straw contributing to environmental pollution and managed it accordingly, to prevent the future crisis. Starbucks is a beverage company that was launched in 1971. The company has the mission to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time. Clearly, the company is making the world a better place by eliminating plastic straws.

Managing crisis is an important aspect of public relations as the crisis cannot be avoided but can be managed. Human nature being uncontrollable explains the difficulty of crisis management. Before further discussion, the definition of crisis in an organization is explained. Brian Boudreaux concluded that crisis is defined as an event that can have a severe effect on the organizations’ ability to sustain itself. With Brian’s research, crisis management is a proactive way of providing a firm with a systematic, orderly response to crisis management. With early detection and recognizing crisis stages, many crises can be prevented and this gives the organization an opportunity to be corporately responsible

With crisis management, organizations are prepared for the event as well as the resolution and issues management could also bring positive opportunities. This is because indulging in crisis management increases the awareness of its community and ways to positively improve itself.

Starbucks eliminating straws for drinks from 2020 is a proactive way of managing crisis. As quoted by Danielle, “Starbucks is transitioning from the flat, plastic lids that require them, to ones that feature a raised lip you can drink from”. This will help control the environmental pollution from straw usage and as Starbucks is taking this step, other beverage companies will do too.

Starbucks stakeholders

A stakeholder is a party that has an interest in a company and can either affect or be affected by the business. The primary stakeholders in a typical corporation are its investors, employees, customers, and suppliers. Starbucks employees will definitely be proud of the company as eliminating straw means the company is corporately responsible and not just concerned about the profit, but also, the environment. With regards to customers, it will be quite difficult to adjust to the alternative to plastic straws. As most people are used to straws, care must be taken while having Starbucks beverages to avoid spillage.

With regards to suppliers, Starbucks suppliers are composed of wholesale supply. Eliminating straws will have a negative impact on the straw supplies.

Crisis stages

According to Fink, there are four stages of crisis which have sufficient warning signs that precede issue. They include the prodromal stage, the acute stage, the chronic stage, and the resolution stage. In the prodromal stage, it includes all aspects of crisis prevention like planning, issue management. Most times, issues management is often thought of as a proactive practice used to avoid a negative situation, it can also identify positive opportunities. Practicing issues management improves an organization’s awareness of its environment and ways to positively involve itself.

This crisis stage explains the steps taken to proactively respond to crisis events like recognition, information distribution, and reputation management. Also, the awareness about plastic straw being impacting the environment is done in this stage. Indeed, Starbucks been corporately responsible is proactively recognizing the negative effect plastic straws will have on the environmental and decided to eliminate it.

The acute and chronic stage, however, include the appearance of a crisis and all possible steps to be taken. In the acute stage of Starbucks eliminating plastic straws, the decision of eliminating plastic has been made and there is no turning back. According to Andrew (2017), the company is an advocate of CSR movements, especially those pertaining to sustainability in business. Clearly, the CEO Kevin Johnson confirmed that as he called the move a “significant milestone” in the path to sustainability. The chronic stage, however, includes possible alternatives, public reviews and stakeholder views about the crisis. Additionally, this stage may include a barrage of questions and opinions about the crisis which will keep the event visible to publics. These two stages include the appearance of Starbucks eliminating straws and the steps taken to resolve the crisis event

The final stage which is the resolution identifies an end to a crisis. As quoted by Fink, this stage is not one to be rushed to because premature conclusion can have a negative impact on the overall crisis. Recurrence of the crisis could happen and decisions made in this crisis stage have a huge impact on the crisis.

To provide a consumer a choice, straw can be offered and not automatically served. With this, people living with a disability will have a choice. The alternatives to plastic straws include paper straw, biodegradable plastics and reusable straws made of silicone or metal. With people living with limited jaw control, paper straw and biodegradable seen to be a fair option as metal or glass reusables are not so practical because they need to be washed after usage.


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