McDonald's Ditches Plastic Straws In The U.K. To Reduce Waste

4 weeks ago

Straws may be a small accessory to our on-the-go lifestyles, but this little piece of plastic has a big impact on the environment. Every day, humans produce and use 500,000,000 straws—and virtually every one of those straws ends up in a landfill, or as the next piece of plastic clogging our waterways, where they take 200 years to decompose, leaching toxins into the environment. All so we can easily sip our sodas. Which is why McDonald's is taking a big step towards eradicating this issue: Starting in May, all UK McDonald's locations will be plastic straw-free. 

The fast food giant has around 1,300 restaurants in the UK, which will all begin testing the use of paper straws instead of plastic. The straws will also be kept behind the counter and only given to customers who ask for one, further reducing the waste produced by our straw habits. 

"The reduction and use of plastics is an hugely important issue – for our business, for the sector and for society," chief executive Paul Pomroy told Metro. "We are committed to reducing our environmental impact and we can, and want to, be part of the solution... we know more can be done."

The plastic straws that McDonald’s currently uses are already recyclable, but the company says it is responding to the rising disapproval of their use by the public. The UK alone uses around 8.5 billion single-use plastic straws each year, and straws are one of the top 10 pieces of debris found on beaches around the world every year. In fact, over the past 25 years, over 6 million straws have been collected from beaches during annual cleaning events. 

Paper straws, on the other hand, are compostable and biodegradable, and may require less energy and release fewer toxins in the process of producing them. 

McDonald’s joins a growing list of restaurants, start-ups, cities, and even royal families that are working to eliminate the tyranny of the plastic straw. In the UK specifically, restaurant chains Wetherspoons and Pizza Express have ditched the accessory, and the Queen of England herself banned the use of plastic straws and bottles from her estates earlier this year. Additionally, the UKL announced plans to eliminate avoidable plastic waste altogether in the next 25 years, putting McDonald's ahead of the curve.

Stateside, a number of cities across the country have also passed laws to limit or ban the use of plastic straws, including Portland, Malibu, Seattle, Davis, San Luis Obispo, Miami Beach, and Fort Myers. And companies are working on creative methods to replace the plastic straw—Lolistraw, for example, makes colorful and fun edible straws made from algae. In other words, the trend on the rise, and McDonald's is getting on board in a big way. 

NewsThese Roads In Sweden Can Charge Electric Cars

A 1.2-mile stretch of highway near Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport will be able to charge electric cars and trucks as they drive on it because of a special strip embedded in the road.

By Desirée Kaplan
1 day ago
News'Operation Warm' Announces Coats For Kids Made From Recycled Plastic

Operation Warm is creating 15,000 coats created from recycled plastic bottles by the time autumn begins. Called "The Green Guardian," these will all be delivered to kids in need across North America by the upcoming fall season.

By Brian Spaen
3 days ago
NewsThe North Face Is Making Shirts From Recycled Bottles To Clean National Parks

A new lines from The North Face is helping to find a use for waste left behind by tourists in national parks, while also innovating more sustainable means of production for clothes.

By Aimee Lutkin
3 days ago
NewsNew Disney Solar Farm Will Power Two Theme Parks

The facility is expected to open by the end of this year and will generate enough renewable energy to power half of Disney's theme parks in Central Florida. 

By Desirée Kaplan
3 days ago
Stay Green
Sign up for our daily newsletter