McDonald’s unveils plan to phase-out plastic straws

McDonald's will start phasing out plastic straws from UK restaurants from May, with the fast food giant ready to trial paper and biodegradable alternatives in response to consumer demand.

From May, McDonald’s will start a trial that sees plastic straws replaced with paper alternatives. The company will also keep the straws behind a counter and will only give them out on request.

McDonald’s chief executive Paul Pomroy announced the phase-out during an interview with Sky News. Pomroy noted that consumer demands had shaped the decision to reduce the amount of straws on offer.

“Straws are one of those things that people feel passionately about, and rightly so, and we’re moving those straws behind the front counter,” Pomroy said.

The fight against plastic pollution has grown considerably over the last few months, driven by high-profile media campaigns and the poignant messaging of the Blue Planet television series. McDonald’s was one of the first brands to react to new consumer demands back in January, announcing plans to boost the recyclability of its packaging.

McDonald’s announced that by 2025, 100% of its guest packaging will come from recycled, renewable or certified sources – the preference being Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified – while also aiming to recycle 100% of restaurant packaging.

Currently, 50% of McDonald’s customer packaging comes from the preferred sources, and 64% of fibre-based packing comes from certified or recycled sources. However, it is estimated that just 10% of McDonald’s restaurants are recycling customer packaging globally.

McDonald’s joins the likes of Waitrose, London City Airport, Hotel du Vin and Costa in agreeing to phase-out plastic straw use in some shape or form.

Science-based targets

At a global level, the company recently announced a new sustainability strategy seeking to reduce emissions by a third under approved science-based targets.

McDonald’s became the first global restaurant company to have an emissions reduction target approved by the Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTI).

Efforts to combat waste are also accelerating. All McDonald’s restaurants serviced by Veolia, around 60% of McDonald’s UK estate, are currently operating at zero-waste to landfill. Staff members carry out daily litter patrols around restaurants to help capture more waste. Employees walk around 150,000 miles each year on litter cleans.

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie