McDonald's is ditching plastic straws in the United Kingdom and Ireland

Andrew Cummings
June 15, 2018

The move coincides with the UK's proposal to ban single-use plastic straws and similar products, the first country to propose such a widespread ban.

A trial of the paper replacements has been taking place at a handful of restaurants since April and was found to be a success, with the majority of customers supporting the effort to protect the environment.

The decision by the U.S. fast food chain to switch from plastic to paper straws follows a trial at a number of outlets in the past two months.

The fast-food industry has always been an issue when it comes to the environment, with waste like foam cups, plastic wrap, boxes and more contributing to trash buildup around the world. Big hospitality chains like Wetherspoons, All Bar One and Wagamama have already promised to get rid of the straws, in light of a growing anti-plastic backlash. And in Malaysia, McDonald's will try a new approach to dispensing straws - giving them out only if a customer requests one.

UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove called it a "significant contribution" to helping the environment, and said it was "a fine example to other large businesses".

"McDonald's has made a significant investment in United Kingdom manufacturing to produce an alternative to plastic, showing British businesses are taking a global lead", he said in a statement.

CNNMoney notes that, per trash-mapping app Litterati, plastic straws are the sixth most common type of litter in the world. Pizza Express said it would replace all plastic straws with biodegradable ones by summer 2018.

Speaking in March, Paul Pomroy, McDonald's UK CEO, said "the reduction and use of plastics is a hugely important issue - for our business, for the sector and for society".

It argues that straws can be recycled together with cartons if they are pushed back into the box.

"McDonald's is committed to using our scale for good and working to find sustainable solutions for plastic straws globally", Francesca DeBiase, the company's executive vice president for global supply chain and sustainability, said in a statement.

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