McDonald's to switch to paper straws in UK, Ireland

Andrew Cummings
June 17, 2018

In an effort to cut down on its plastic waste, the company will begin the roll-out of paper straws in September across all 1,361 United Kingdom and Ireland stores.

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.

Figures from the US-based Ocean Conservancy's TIDES data system show that plastic straws are the 11th most common item of rubbish found during oceanic clean-ups, making up about 3% of recovered waste.

McDonald's said that plastic straws would still be available "for those that require it", but they will be kept behind the counter.

The fast-food giant joins a list of nightclubs and restaurant venues which have pledged to dump plastic straws for bio-degradable alternatives.

The restaurant chain uses 1.8 million straws a day in the UK.

Plastic straws in particular have been known to cause harm to wildlife like turtles and fish when they end up in our oceans.

McDonald's will begin to withdraw plastic straws from sale in September.

McDonald's is the latest in a string of high street names in the process of replacing plastic straws with paper or biodegradable ones, including Costa Coffee, Wetherspoons and Pizza Express.

The chain has been working with start-up Transcend Packaging, based in Wales, and Huhtamaki, an global company that will produce the straws in Belfast.

"Those are complicated, but we're working with our suppliers to find a solution to that", he said.

And Tetra Pak - the food packaging company - has said plastic straws serve a "vital" function in cartons and should not be banned.

"The Government's ambitious plans, combined with strong customer opinion, has helped to accelerate the move away from plastic".

"In addition to testing alternative materials, in several markets including Malaysia, we will begin tests to offer straws upon request only", the company said in a release.

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".

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