McDonald’s to ban plastic straws in all its UK restaurants

Following a successful trial of paper and biodegradable alternatives, McDonald's has announced that it will begin phasing out plastic straws in all its UK and Ireland restaurants by the end of this year.

The chain, which uses 1.8 million straws each day across its 1,361 UK restaurants, will begin the phase-out in September with a view for completion in the first half of 2019, it said in a statement.

“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,” McDonald’s UK and Ireland chief executive Paul Pomroy said.

“The government’s ambitious plans, combined with strong customer opinion, has helped to accelerate the move away from plastic and I’m proud that we’ve been able to play our part in helping to achieve this societal change.”

The commitment from McDonald’s was welcomed by Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who dubbed it a “significant contribution” to helping the environment, adding that it was “a fine example to other large businesses”.

The move from the fast food giant comes after a month-long trial which saw some restaurants stock paper straws, keeping them behind a counter and only giving them out on request.

It will now embark on similar trials in selected restaurants in the US, France and Norway to see whether the switch to paper straws is viable across it global operations.

The shift away from single-use plastic straws comes as part of McDonald’s’ 2025 commitment to securing all guest packaging from recycled, renewable or certified sources in the UK.

No more clutching at straws

McDonald’s joins several other high-profile brands in the food and drink sector to announce plastic straw bans in recent months as public, corporate and political attention continues to remain firmly set on the damaging build-up of plastic waste in oceans.

Last week, fast food rival Burger King announced that it will roll out compostable straws in its UK restaurants this year in a move that will cut the brand’s plastic output by a third.

Meanwhile, the likes of Costa, Wagamama and Nando’s have also agreed to phase-out plastic straw use in some shape or form, while a string of hospitality corporates including HiltonHotel du Vin and AccorHotels have made similar commitments.

Sarah George

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