PhotoWhole Foods has announced that it will stop offering plastic straws at all of its locations in the U.S., as well as in Canada and the United Kingdom.

The Amazon-owned retailer joins a growing list of restaurants that have begun phasing out plastic straws, but Whole Foods says it’s the first grocery chain to make the move.

Plastic straws will be removed from the company’s juice and coffee bars and cafes. In their place, consumers will be offered paper straws starting in July. Whole Foods says it will still provide plastic straws to customers with disabilities who request one.

Reducing plastic use

In addition to eliminating plastic straws, the grocery chain has reduced the size of its plastic produce bags and will begin placing rotisserie chicken in bags instead of plastic containers. The bags that will take the place of the containers contain 70 percent less plastic.

Whole Foods says it expects its new environmentally friendly initiatives will save an estimated 800,000 pounds of plastic per year.

“For almost 40 years, caring for the environment has been central to our mission and how we operate,” Whole Foods president A.C. Gallo said in a statement. “We recognize that single-use plastics are a concern for many of our customers, team members and suppliers. ... We will continue to look for additional opportunities to further reduce plastic across our stores.”

Eliminating unnecessary plastic

The retailer joins other establishments who have set out to curb their impact on the environment by reducing plastic offerings. Starbucks recently announced that it would be rolling out new cold cup lids that do not require a straw. The coffee chain said it’s aiming to eliminate single-use plastic straws at all of its locations worldwide by next year.

Disney Parks announced last year that it plans to stop offering single-use plastic straws and stirrers on its grounds, and McDonald’s has said it plans to start phasing out straws at some of its restaurants.

Last October, hundreds of organizations pledged to eliminate plastic waste from their operations by 2025 under a global initiative led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Researchers have calculated that if current trends continue, there could be more plastic than fish in the world’s seas by 2050.

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