This is a bit of a controversial one. I'm not usually for what amounts to blatant plastic waste. However, the plastic stopper that Starbucks has started supplying really is a nice little touch for those customers it's aimed at benefiting.
See, I'm a fast walker…a really fast walker. And on those cold, blustery days down by the lake I practically have to sprint back to my desk after a visit to my local Starbucks. The stopper, with the cutely embossed mermaid on the top means that my hands and coat don't end up Latte soaked on the way. They're great for when you're getting multiple beverages for people and even better when you're driving.
A friend of mine came into the office one day bursting to hail the virtues of this tiny device. He was so happy that he no longer had to worry about his car getting doused in a tall Extra Bold on the way to work in the morning.
To try and suppress my environmental guilt I always recycle these and hope that they are actually composed of the type of plastic that can be recycled. If I find out otherwise I may have to start carrying one around in my pocket and hope that I don't accidentally puncture myself with it one day.
Within a couple days of emailing Starbucks I actually have an answer to whether or not the stoppers are recyclable. The fact that I got any answer from such a large corporation could be a blog post in itself, but we'll leave that for now.
The stoppers are NOT recyclable. Well, not really. An excerpt from the email:
Splash sticks are made from polypropylene. Splash sticks are not currently made from recycled material. However, we can encourage customers to clean and reuse the splash sticks to reduce waste. We welcome your thoughts and ideas along these lines.
Splash sticks are made from polypropylene, which is technically a recyclable material (code number 5). However, since not all municipalities have the infrastructure to recycle polypropylen
My complaint about this is that I have not been encouraged to reuse the splash sticks at my local Starbucks. A solution might be a simple bit of signage around the stoppers, or keeping them behind the counter where a customer would have to request them. From a little searching of blogs it would seem the latter is employed in some New York stores.
However, if you live in a municipality that recycles #5 plastics, start recycling these if you use them. If not, see if you can handle reusing the splash sticks when you can.