McDonald's To Replace Plastic Straws With Paper In An Effort To Reduce Waste

The change is being trialed in U.K. restaurants.

McDonald's announced it will replace plastic straws with paper ones at some of its U.K. locations in May in an effort to help protect the environment. In addition, customers will not automatically be given straws. Instead, straws will be held behind the counter, and will have to be specifically requested in an extra effort to reduce waste

"The reduction and use of plastics is a hugely important issue – for our business, for the sector, and for society," Paul Pomroy, chief executive of McDonald's U.K., said in a statement. "We are committed to reducing our environmental impact and we can, and want to, be part of the solution." 

For most people, straws are completely unnecessary. Yet, plastic ones are making a negative impact on our planet and those who inhabit it. It's estimated that 8.5 billion plastic straws are used in the U.K. a year, according to the Marine Conservation Society. Many of the plastic straws we use end up polluting our oceans and harming sea life. And, if you do toss them in the recycling bin, they may not actually get reused. 

"While many plastic straws can be recycled, most are not recyclable," according to The Lonely Whale Foundation. "While some straws are made from #2 or #5 plastic, which is recyclable, straws are too lightweight and often don't make it through the recycling sorter. Further, many communities don't allow plastic straws to be recycled no matter the material. Like the plastic bag and soda can rings, straws fall under the category of 'single-use plastics.' " 

Lenscap Photography / Shutterstock.com 
Lenscap Photography / Shutterstock.com 

"We really want to see all plastic straws being removed from all the fast food chains ... customers clearly do not choose to recycle convenience packaging," Emma Cunningham, a campaign officer at the Marine Conservation Society, said in a statement.

In addition to the paper straws, McDonald's has encouraged waste reduction by installing recycling units in over 1,000 of their U.K. restaurants and supports anti-littering initiatives across the country.  

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