McDonald’s Switching to Paper Straws in the UK and Ireland

The UK has recently taken large strides toward phasing out single-use plastics. They added a charge to plastic bags to reduce use and are currently trying to ban wet wipes—which have caused major sewage issues. Now, McDonald’s says that they will be removing plastic straws in their UK and Ireland locations and replacing them with paper straws.

Plastic Straw Statistics

McDonald’s uses about 1.8 million straws a day at its 1,361 locations in the UK and Ireland. A petition went around, calling for the company to stop contributing to the world’s plastic pollution problem. It received about half a million signatures.

The company stated on Facebook, “You asked, we listened.” They said their plan is to start transitioning plastic straws to paper ones in September of this year. They will complete the transition in 2019, and the UK and Ireland will have places that recycle paper straws. They claim that there will be plastic straws available to “those who need it,” but customers will have to ask for them. People who may need them include those with disabilities, small children, or the elderly.

McDonald’s also plans to make all of their packaging renewable and recyclable by 2025. The UK Secretary of State for Environment, Michael Gove, said that the company is making a “significant shift” to help the environment. He hopes that more companies will say no to single-use plastics.

Other McDonald’s Changes Around the World

McDonald’s has also announced plans to test alternatives to plastic straws in several other countries. This includes the United States, Norway, Sweden, Australia, France, and Australia. This will start later this year, but they did not specify which alternatives they will be trying.

They also plan to only give out straws in Malaysia if the customer asks for one.

Why Phase Out Plastic Straws?

The sixth most common type of litter in the world is the plastic straw and only one percent of them are recycled. People typically only use straws once before throwing them away, which drastically increases the number that people use every day.

The government in the UK stated that one million birds and 100,000 sea mammals die every year due to plastic pollution. Both eating the plastic and getting tangled in it are ways that these animals die. Some of you may argue that you throw your plastic in the garbage though. Though you are not littering, there are other ways garbage leaves bins and landfills. Animals can go through the bins and the wind can blow things around—the list could go on, but you probably get my point.

Look for Green Alternatives

Single-use plastics make up a large portion of our plastic pollution problem. It can easily be reduced if we use other, reusable items. Reusable items make it so that we are not constantly throwing away products and buying new ones. This also means that you can save money.

Here are some of the materials used for alternatives to plastic straws:

  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Paper
  • Compostable/Plant-Based (These are materials like bamboo, seaweed, and straw.)
  • Reusable Plastic (This is not as good as the other materials, but at least it is reusable.)

If McDonald’s can take the leap to phase out single-use plastic straws, you can do it too.

Image Source: Pixabay

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Lacey Jolley

I love exploring, experiencing new places, and eating good food! I'm amazed every day at how well the Earth provides for us, and I want to return the favor. I hope to help others learn how we can make our world a better, cleaner place.

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