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Photo: Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Starbucks announced on Monday a phase-out of plastic straws in their 28,000 stores across the world by 2020, planning to replace them with a "strawless lid" and straws made of paper and recyclable plastic.

Why it matters: Starbucks estimates that this change will remove a billion single-use straws from its stores each year. Straws represent an especially unnecessary plastic to many, used once for minutes before being discarded, and have been linked to deaths of marine and bird life due to improper disposal.

The big picture: According to organization For a Strawless Ocean, Americans use 500 million plastic straws each day — and the majority end up in the ocean. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that the mass of plastic in the ocean will surpass that of marine life by 2050.

The bans are in vogue, and some activists hope the straw bans may serve as a "gateway plastic" to reducing other single-use plastics.

  • The UK announced a full phase-out of straws and cotton swabs in April.
  • Seattle became the first major U.S. city to ban plastic straws on July 1.

Yes, but: Plastic straws aren't the biggest culprit in plastics pollution, they're just easy to remove. While banning them would reduce pollution overall, it would make a small dent and the world's largest buyer, McDonald's, hasn't announced any planned phase-out.

Go deeper

Lawmakers call for Israel-Hamas ceasefire amid aerial bombardments

Combination images of Republican Sen. Todd Young and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy. Photo: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images/Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and 28 Senate Democrats on Sunday called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas as fighting continued into the night.

Driving the news: In the first bipartisan call for a ceasefire, Young, a ranking member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, joined its Chair Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) a statement saying: "Israel has the right to defend itself from Hamas' rocket attacks, in a manner proportionate with the threat its citizens are facing.

Bill Gates faces scrutiny over relationship with Microsoft employee, Epstein ties

Photo: Alessandro Di Ciommo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Representatives for Bill Gates pushed back on claims Sunday that he left Microsoft's board because of an earlier sexual relationship and against two other reports detailing more extensive ties with Jeffrey Epstein than had previously been reported.

Driving the news: Microsoft said in an emailed statement to Axios that it "received a concern" in 2019 that its co-founder "sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000," but denied a Wall Street Journal report that its board members thought Gates should resign over the matter.

AT&T in talks with Discovery to combine media assets

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

AT&T is in talks with media giant Discovery about merging its media assets, like CNN, TBS and TNT, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

Why it matters: A potential merger could allow AT&T and Discovery to better compete with entertainment giants like Disney and Netflix in the video streaming wars.