McDonald’s rolls out paper straws to all UK and Ireland restaurants

Gladys Abbott
June 17, 2018

The UK Government will launch a consultation in to a possible ban on plastic straws and drinks stirrers later this year amid growing concerns about their environmental impact.

Plastic straws often end up as litter and contribute to plastic pollution in the sea.

The move comes after estimates that 8.5 billion straws are used in Britain every year - or more than 23 million a day - which is contributing to the death of marine animals, according to the Marine Conservation Society.

Given the size of the company's purchasing power, McDonald's says it hopes the shift will "support industrywide change and bring sustainable solutions to scale", said Francesca DeBiase, head of global supply chain and sustainability at the company.

A number of other companies have made the move to paper straws in recent times, including Burger King, Costa Coffee, Wagamama and pub chain JD Wetherspoon, all of whom operate in Ireland.

Some manufacturers have previously argued against the removal of plastic straws because they are needed by some people with disabilities, children and the elderly.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the initiative was "simple but effective" and is a "fine example to other large businesses".

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"We want more companies to say no to unnecessary single-use plastics".

In parts of Latin America and Malaysia, the company is starting to offer straws on request only. The straw switchover will start in September and be fully in place by 2019.

Straws are coming under attack not only in corporate boardrooms, but also in government.

The company now employs 20 people and said its new contract will lead to an extra 30 jobs.

50 percent of its packaging now comes from sustainable sources, and the company has pledged to with local governments and industry to improve this figure.

"The drive to eliminate plastic straws is a good step and it's symbolic - and symbols are important", he said.

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