McDonald’s Eliminating Plastic Straws in U.K. and Ireland

More foodservice providers are moving away from one-use, plastic products.

June 21, 2018

WASHINGTON and LONDON - In September, McDonald's will start using paper straws instead of plastic at restaurants across the United Kingdom and Ireland, according to an NPR report, and the company plans to test sustainable alternatives to plastic straws in the United States and elsewhere later this year.

Reportedly, McDonald’s uses nearly half a million plastic straws in the U.K. daily but has announced plans to have all of its packaging come from “renewable, recycled or certified” sources by 2025. All U.K. and Ireland McDonald’s stores will have facilities for recycling paper straws by late next year, The Guardian reports.

Because plastic straws generally are used only once, they’re a prime target for environmentalists, who claim the waste ends up polluting the world’s oceans, killing marine life and birds. McDonald’s says it will experiment with alternatives to plastic straws later this year in the United States, France, Norway, Australia and Sweden, but gave no information about what materials will be used.

Recently, Dunkin’ Donuts announced it would substitute paper straws, which biodegrade within 60 days, for plastic. Cities including Miami Beach and Malibu have banned the controversial straws, and a similar law becomes effective in Seattle next month. New York City is considering joining this group.

In May, Bon Appétit, the foodservice management company, said it would remove plastic straws from its 1,000 cafes in 33 states and replace them with compostable cardboard-like straws that don’t become flimsy during use, a frequent complaint about paper straws. Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines says it is removing plastic drink stirrers from its flights.

In the United States, an estimated 500 million disposable plastic straws are used and thrown away every day, according to Eco-Cycle, a Boulder, Colorado-based nonprofit recycler.