McDonald's to test alternative to plastic straws in some U.S. restaurants

Gladys Abbott
June 15, 2018

In addition to the USA testing, McDonald's will implement paper straws in all 1,361 of its restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland, with the rollout scheduled to begin in September and conclude by 2019.

"Reflecting the broader public debate, our customers told us they wanted to see a move on straws", a company spokesperson said.

The ban on plastic straws comes as a result of a series of successful trials in certain outlets - and they will soon start in the US, France and Norway.

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

Because of its massive size, the global hamburger chain can effect significant change in the supply chain, as it did when it announced it would use eggs only from cage-free hens.

The chain may be forced to phase out plastic straws whether they want to or not.

In some other countries, straws are being offered on request only.

"We all have a responsibility to our environment and this simple yet effective initiative is a fine example to other large businesses", he said.

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It follows Burger King, JD Wetherspoon, Costa Coffee, Pizza Express and Wagamama in ditching the plastic.

McDonald's isn't the only major straw user to start tossing them aside.

The flurry of commitments comes as efforts to eliminate single-use plastic intensify.

Most straws are made from plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene, which unless recycled take hundreds of years to decompose.

"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.

Many end up in landfill and the oceans, and the BBC's Blue Planet II highlighted the damage plastic can cause to marine wildlife.

McDonald's will use two companies to meet their needs, according to RTÉ - Huhtamaki, which has a production plant in Belfast, and Welsh start-up Transcend Packaging.

Eric Goldstein, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the announcement from as big a company as McDonald's reflects the growing tide of concern about single-use plastics worldwide.

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