McDonald's to replace all plastic straws with paper ones across UK restaurants

Ivan Schwartz
June 17, 2018

Right now, the restaurant chain uses 1.8 million straws a day in the UK.

The initial rollout of paper straws at more than 1,300 restaurants will start in September and complete next year, the company said in a statement.

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

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The ban does not yet extend to the rest of the chain's global empire, but trials will begin in selected restaurants in the US, France and Norway.

McDonald's move is a "significant contribution to help our natural environment", said Michael Gove, secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs in the United Kingdom, in a statement.

Plastic straws are the sixth most common type of litter globally, according to Litterati, an app that identifies and maps trash.

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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 Sum of Us petition calling for the change had warned that many plastic straws ended up polluting the ocean, harming seabirds and marine life.

But not everyone thinks total bans are the answer.

Economy Secretary Ken Skates said Transcend's "proactive approach" was helping to create Welsh jobs, a well as helping to "significantly reduce the amount of single use plastic used by one of the biggest names in the business". She said paper alternatives were not always suitable or safe.

The Chicago-based fast-food chain said it has been dabbling in disposable-straw alternatives in Belgium, too.

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

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.

Other reports by GizPress

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