McDonald’s will dump its plastic straws and replace them with paper ones in all its UK and Ireland restaurants, starting from September this year. The straws will use paper from certified sustainable sources, the company said.
The restaurant chain uses 1.8 million straws a day in the UK and the latest company to opt out of some single-use plastic products which can take hundreds of years to decompose if not recycled.
This decision follows a successful trial in selected restaurants earlier this year. The move to paper straws will be completed next year. Environment Secretary Michael Gove called it a “significant contribution” to helping the environment, adding that it was “a fine example to other large businesses”.
In April, the government proposed a ban on plastic straws and cotton buds in England. But many businesses, including Waitrose, Costa Coffee, and Wagamama, have already started to take action.
All JD Wetherspoon pubs stopped using plastic straws at the beginning of the year. Pizza Express said it would replace all plastic straws with biodegradable ones by summer 2018.
And more than 60 independent British festivals – including Boardmasters and Bestival – have banned plastic straws as part of a pledge to rid their sites of single-use plastic by 2021.
Most straws are made from plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene, which unless recycled take hundreds of years to decompose. Many end up in landfill and the oceans, and the BBC’s Blue Planet II highlighted the damage plastic can cause to marine wildlife.