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22 Big Companies That Are Getting Rid of Plastic for Good

These big companies are rolling up their sleeves and changing habits to benefit the environment.

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Hands holding up plastic bottlessebra/Shutterstock

Ready for some staggering facts? Up to one trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year. And unfortunately, it’s estimated that only around 5 percent of those bags actually get recycled. It gets worse: According to the Ocean Conservancy, our oceans are filled with more than 150 million tons of plastic. A major contributor is the 500 million straws that Americans use daily, reports National Geographic. On a global scale, almost 300 million tons of plastic are produced annually—half of which is single-use products. In an effort to cut back and reduce their massive carbon footprints, big companies are doing away with single-use items (including straws and bags), enacting sustainability initiatives—and already making an impact. Here’s a rundown of those companies leading the charge against plastic.

Have a lot of plastic bags? Here’s how to organize and reuse them.

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watervia evian/facebook


It’s estimated that one million plastic bottles are sold around the world each minute. But, by 2021? Humans will have used half a trillion plastic bottles per year. Evian wants to rectify how they’ve contributed to the issue, reports Fast Company. By 2025, they plan on producing all their plastic bottles from 100 percent recycled plastic. To put in perspective—most bottled water companies average around 6 percent to 7 percent recycled plastic in their products. Do your part and switch to one of these reusable water bottles.

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Minsk, Belarus, june 23, 2017: McDonald's soft drink. Woman drinks a drink in the background of the McDonald's restaurant; Shutterstock ID 6701368188th.creator/Shutterstock


McDonald’s plans to stock their 36,000 restaurants in 122 locations around the globe with packaging—including straws—that are from renewable, recycled or certified sustainable sources. By 2025, all their locations will be compliant; currently, only half of McDonald’s customer packaging comes from renewable, recycled or certified sources and nearly two-thirds of fiber-based packaging comes from certified or recycled sources. Did you know these 8 surprising facts about McDonald’s?

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beer via Guinness/facebook


Soon you’ll be able to sip your Guinness with green pride that goes beyond Irish solidarity: Diageo, the British beverage giant that bottles the classic beer, recently announced they’ll be eliminating all plastic from their beer packaging and replacing it with 100 percent biodegradable—or recyclable—cardboard. They’re investing $21 million to get rid of plastic ring four-pack and six-pack holders, along with all shrink-wrapping, and they’ll be rolling out the changes to their other beer brands, Smithwick and Harp. Guinness isn’t just for drinking; take a look at these 16 recipes that start with a pint.

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food companyvia Sodexo USA/facebook


Foodservice company Sodexo provides around 13,000 cafeteria-style meals and concessions to schools, workplaces and venues each year. They began a new sustainability plan in 2019 that eliminates 245 million single-use items at their locations. Plastic bags and stirrers are no longer available—and they’re moving towards making plastic straws available by request only. By 2025, they plan to get rid of polystyrene foam items such as cups, lids and food containers too. By the way. this is why you should keep the cap on while recycling bottles.

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red lobstervia Red Lobster/facebook

Red Lobster

By November 2019, Red Lobster’s 700 restaurants stopped offering plastic straws upon customer request. Eco-friendlier alternatives will be hitting restaurants sometime this year. Red Lobster estimated the shift will eliminate more than 150 million plastic straws per year. This is part of the company’s effort to reduce the marine plastic pollution problem that is killing millions of marine animals each year.

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beervia Carlsberg/facebook


You know those plastic rings that hold a six-pack of beer together? Danish brewer Carlsberg will be the first beer producer to ditch them. Instead, they’ll use recyclable glue to hold their cans together. Carlsberg is eliminating 1200 tons of plastic per year—and reducing the amount of plastic used in traditional multipacks by up to 76 percent. Here’s how to drink a beer the right way.

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nestlevia Nestlé/facebook


In 2019, Nestlé, which is the world’s largest packaged food company, eliminated all plastic straws in its products. As part of this commitment to reducing waste, they’re also transitioning Nesquik drinks from plastic to paper containers while Nestlé Waters will increase the recycled PET content in its bottles to 50 percent in the United States. And, by 2025, Nestlé has pledged to make 100 percent of ALL its product’s packaging recyclable or reusable.

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starbucksvia Starbucks/facebook


Starbucks plans to eliminate all plastic straws from their 28,000 stores. Now, how will that affect customers with a hankering for iced coffee or tea? In lieu of straws, all cold beverages will use a recyclable, strawless plastic lid. And for frothier drinks like Frappuccinos, which are straw-dependent? Starbucks will offer straws (made via materials like paper and compostable plastic)—but only by request. They estimate their plans will eliminate more than one billion plastic straws each year. Here are 13 things Starbucks employees won’t tell you.

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method products, soapvia method home/facebook

Method Cleaning Products

Since plastics make up almost 13 percent of the municipal solid waste generated, and the largest plastic waste contributors are containers and packaging—cleaning brand Method is all about reducing the carbon footprint of their products. A big step is making all their 1-PET plastic bottles, including handwash, dish soap and spray cleaners, from 100 percent PCR (post-consumer resin, which has about a 70 percent lower carbon footprint than virgin plastic).

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cliff bar via CLIF Bar/facebook


The power bar company is a trailblazer in its commitment to zero waste. On Earth Day 2001, they made the switch to recycled paper. Today, they no longer shrink-wrap boxes of their bars—and the boxes themselves are made from 100 percent recycled paperboard. Clifbars are among the most underrated groceries available on Amazon.

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krogervia Kroger/facebook

Kroger Supermarkets

Up to 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year and only about 5 percent of them are recycled. To make a dent, approximately 2800 Kroger-owned grocery stores across the country will do away with packing up their customer’s groceries in plastic bags. Seattle based Quality Food Centers (QFC) is the first Kroger owned store that’s already put this plan into effect with the other stores right behind.

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whole foods via Whole Foods Market/facebook

Whole Foods

In 2007, after estimating they were distributing 150 million plastic bags a year, Whole Foods became one of the first grocery store chains to eliminate a plastic bag option, reports the New York Times. That’s when they started offering customers a choice between recycled paper or reusable bags. After a trial run in Toronto and Texas stores, the no plastic bag ban took effect at all Whole Food locations on Earth Day 2008. Whole Foods might be opening new locations in this old department store.

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BANGNA, THAILAND-SEPTEMBER 9, 2016: The Ikea store of Thailand. IKEA is the world's largest furniture retailer and sells ready to assemble furniture. Founded in Sweden in 1943; Shutterstock ID 481521856; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of HomeTanasan Sungkaew/Shutterstock


In 2008, IKEA was also a leader in the elimination of plastic bags. They rolled out a policy so customers could purchase an IKEA blue bag for $.59 or use their own. 92% of Ikea shoppers choose reusable bags over plastic ones—and the policy is still in effect today.

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ethique beautyvia Ethique/facebook

Ethique Beauty

Since 2012, Ethique has changed the beauty industry by being the first zero-waste beauty brand—their shampoo, conditioner and body wash aren’t packaged in traditional plastic bottles. Instead, the products are made in “bar” form and arrive packaged in cardboard boxes. You simply add water to use—then recycle or compost the packaging. With 80 billion bottles from shampoo and conditioner used around the world every year, Ethique has prevented over 3 million bottles, jars and tubes from being made. They aim to take that number to 10 million by 2025. Looking for other ways to help? Here’s how you can reuse those beauty bottles and jars.

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cruise line, boatvia Norwegian Cruise Line/facebook

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings

In 2018, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced they were saying bon voyage to single-use plastic straws across its fleet of 26 ships. And that’s not all—two of their island destinations—Great Stirrup Cay and Harvest Caye (in the Bahamas and Belize) are banning single-use plastic straws too. The impact? The elimination of more than 50 million straws across its fleet every year.

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american airlinesvia American Airlines/facebook

American Airlines

Not only is American Airlines banning plastic straws and stirrers on their flights, but they’re also planning to phase out single-use plastic in their lounges around the world. This means the end of straws being served with drinks while plastic water bottles and flatware will no longer be offered and reusable bags will pack up to-go orders. American Airlines expects this new initiative to eliminate 71,000 pounds of plastic waste annually.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by John Raoux/AP/REX/Shutterstock (10180758b) Theme park guests walk near a statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse in front of the Cinderella castle in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, USA - 09 Jan 2019John Raoux/Shutterstock

The Walt Disney Company

Roughly 175 million straws and 13 million stirrers are used at all Disney theme parks and resorts each year. To eliminate that waste, the Walt Disney Company banned single-use plastic straws and stirrers last summer. Disney also plans to cut down on single-use plastic bags with reusable shopping bags that patrons can opt to buy instead. And, Disney has plans to reduce the amount of plastic in guest rooms by 80 percent.

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air planevia United/facebook

United Airlines

United Airlines has banned plastic straws and cocktail picks on their flights—and in November 2019, they introduced a biodegradable bamboo alternative. United Airlines felt this was an important switch to make because of the fact that straws don’t biodegrade and are nearly impossible to recycle. Before your next flight, make sure you know which foods you can bring on a plane.

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HOTELvia Hyatt/facebook


In 2018, Hyatt announced plans to eliminate single-use plastic straws and drink picks, making then only available by request at their properties. Hyatt is also offering “eco-friendly alternatives” for other products. Since 2008, Hyatt has collaborated with Clean the World, a non-profit that collects used soap and shampoo products from hotels, recycles them and then donates them to communities in need.

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ORLANDO, USA - March 30, 2015: Killer Whales perform during the Shamu Show at Sea World Orlando - one of the most visited amusement park in the United States on March 30, 2015 in Orlando, Florida, USA; Shutterstock ID 266180681; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of HomeAmi Parikh/Shutterstock

Sea World Entertainment

SeaWorld Entertainment is on a mission to protect animals and habitats worldwide—and cemented their dedication to the cause in 2018. They eliminated single-use plastic straws and bags from all 12 of its theme parks. It’s estimated that eight million metric tons of plastics enter the ocean each year.

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marriott hotelvia Marriott International/facebook

Marriott International

At the start of 2019, Marriott started phasing out plastic straws from their London hotels—and announced they’d completely eliminated plastic straws and stirrers from all their properties worldwide by the end of 2019. With more than 6,500 locations, Marriott estimates they use around 1 billion straws and 250 million stirrers per year.

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delta airplanesvia Delta Air Lines/facebook


Delta Airlines is on track to reduce its plastic waste by an estimated 300,000 pounds a year. They’ll remove a variety of single-use plastic items—including stir sticks, wrappers, utensils and straws—from planes and lounges. By mid-2019, they made the switch; bamboo straws for cold drinks and birch wood stirrers for hot drinks, and Delta One’s Tumi kits are also no longer be wrapped in plastic.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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