Single-use plastic straws are a massive environmental problem. In the US alone, around 500 million straws are used every day, and according to a 2017 survey plastic straws are the 11th most commonly found trash in the ocean. The problem has recently started to enter the public consciousness with calls for bans of the ubiquitous plastic drinking tubes. At least one major source of the problem has heard these calls, with McDonald's committing to find more environmentally-friendly alternatives.
The global fast-food giant has announced that from September, all 1,361 McDonald's restaurants in the UK and Ireland will begin to phase out plastic straws, with the transition to paper straws to be complete in 2019. Additionally, restaurants in Belgium have been trialing alternatives to plastic straws since earlier this year, with select outlets in the US, France, Sweden, Norway and Australia to also test non-plastic alternatives later this year. The company also plans to trial only offering straws upon request in several markets, including Malaysia.
"McDonald's is committed to using our scale for good and working to find sustainable solutions for plastic straws globally," says Francesca DeBiase Executive Vice President, Global Supply Chain and Sustainability. "In addition to the exciting news from the UK today, we are testing straw alternatives in other countries to provide the best experience for our customers. We hope this work will support industry wide change and bring sustainable solutions to scale."
We hope other major players start to feel the pressure and announce similar moves in the near future. It's also worth pointing out that there are already plastic straw alternatives for those wishing to do their bit.
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