Ben & Jerry’s is joining the fight against single-use plastic. The company announced their plan to phase out plastic straws and spoons at their more than 600 locations across the United States. They’ll begin with the spoons and straws early this year, and have plans to get rid of the plastic-lined cups and lids in the near future, with the company saying it expects to eliminate them by the end of 2020.
They’ll first introduce the wooden spoons on April 9 of this year — which happens to be the chain’s popular free cone day; they have only been offering plastic straws at their storefronts by request, and will continue that model for the near future.
Of course, opting to eat your ice cream — whether you’re a Cherry Garcia guy or a Phish Food fan — remains the most sustainable way to enjoy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
Jenna Evans, Ben & Jerry’s Global Sustainability Manager, is leading the change on the corporate level. In a press release, she noted that Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops currently dole out 2.5 million plastic straws and 30 million plastic spoons annually. She added, “We’re not going to recycle our way out of this problem. We, and the rest of the world, need to get out of single-use plastic.”
Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, agreed. “Single-use plastics are a pollution threat unlike anything we’ve seen before,” he said. “Across the globe, discarded plastics are choking our environment and threatening wildlife. The only solution is to stop using them. That’s why Ben & Jerry’s plan to move away from single-use plastic is exactly the kind of leadership we need. We urge other businesses to follow Ben & Jerry’s example and kick the plastics habit.”
Ben & Jerry’s has made other changes in recent years in an effort to be more sustainable; pint containers have been made with Forest Stewardship Council-Certified paper since 2009, but remain difficult to recycle because they are coated with polyethylene to create a moisture barrier. Evans said that they have begun an “intensive effort” to find a compostable option — and she acknowledged that getting rid of single-use plastic isn’t the be-all, end-all when it comes to sustainability.
“In the short term, eliminating plastic straws and spoons is not going to save the world. But it’s a good start toward changing expectations. We’re committed to exploring additional options to further reduce the use of disposable items. The transition is the first step for us on a more comprehensive journey to eliminate single-use, petroleum-based plastic in our supply chain, and we look forward to reporting on our progress,” Evans explained.
“Thankfully, Ben & Jerry’s has a baked-in solution to plastic waste: It’s called our Waffle Cone. They’re yummy, convenient, and waste-free.”