McDonald’s Straw Vote: ‘You Asked, We Listened’

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McDonald’s is listening to its customers who are concerned about the impact of plastic—even something as small as a plastic straw—on the planet. “You asked, we listened. Paper straws will be rolling out to all UK restaurants from this September!” the chain announced on Facebook and Twitter, responding to a petition calling for the chain to stop using plastic straws that has drawn nearly a half million signatures.

The commitment to introduce paper straws will be fully implemented next year. Globally, it has committed to having 100 percent of its packaging come from “renewable, recycled, or certified” sources by 2025.

“Reflecting the broader public debate, our customers told us they wanted to see a move on straws but to do so without compromising their overall experience when visiting our restaurants,” stated Paul Pomroy, CEO of McDonald’s UK and Ireland.

Plastic straws are the sixth most common type of litter globally, according to Litterati, an app that maps trash. Only 1% are recycled because their composition—a mixture of polypropylene and polystyrene—makes it difficult.

The impact: an estimated 1 million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals die every year from eating or getting tangled in plastic waste, according to the UK government. At current rates, there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the world’s oceans by 2050.

McDonald’s can make a big difference by adopting more environment-friendly versions of the 1.8 million straws used daily at its 1,361 restaurants in the UK and Ireland. Paper straw manufacturing is expanding in the UK to address the need.

“McDonald’s has made a significant investment in UK manufacturing to produce an alternative to plastic, showing British businesses are taking a global lead,” added UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

In making this commitment, it joins other big UK restaurant chains such as Pizza Express and Wagamama, which have also banned plastic straws.

More than 40 other companies including Coca-Cola, Nestle, Unilever and P&G have pledged to slash the amount of plastic they use in the UK.

Beyond the UK, McDonald’s plans to test alternatives to plastic straws this year in the U.S., France, Sweden, Norway and Australia.

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