American Airlines announced plans on Tuesday to replace plastic straws and drink stirrers with biodegradable options, making it the first major airline to phase out the single-use plastics. American will roll out the eco-friendly initiative in its airport lounges later this month, the Associated Press reports. In November, the airline will start to phase out the straws and stir sticks it uses on board its planes with bamboo ones.
Between its lounges and planes, American Airlines says it believes this will help remove 71,000 pounds of plastic each year from the environment.
Our straws will be eco-friendly and bio-degradable and will help reduce over 71,000 pounds of plastic waste per year.— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) July 12, 2018
“We’re cognizant of our impact on the environment and we remain committed to doing our part to sustain the planet for future generations of travelers,” Jill Surdek, American Airlines’s vice president of Flight Service, said in a statement.
While American is the first major international carrier to stop using plastic straws, Alaska Airlines announced plans in May to replace the ones it uses on board with more sustainable options this summer. According to the Associated Press, Delta, United, and Southwest all currently still use plastic straws and stir sticks.
Airlines aren’t the only ones in the travel industry to discontinue single-use plastics. Hilton Hotels is phasing out plastic straws from all 650 of its properties by the end of the year, and Hyatt Hotels says it will only offer plastic straws upon request after September 1. Royal Caribbean Cruises implemented a similar request-only policy over a year ago as it aims to get rid of all plastic straws on its ships by the end of 2018.
The ban is a part of a global movement to help prevent single-use plastics that are rarely recycled—like straws—from ending up in landfills and the ocean. Starbucks announced earlier in July that it plans on no longer using plastic straws in its stores by 2020, while Seattle was the first major U.S. city to ban the use of plastic straws and utensils in restaurants as of July 1. State senates in both Hawaii and California are considering similar laws against plastic straws now.