McDonald's to replace plastic straws with paper ones

McDonald's will use paper straws in every restaurant in the UK

McDonald's is ditching plastic straws in all its 1,361 United Kingdom and Ireland restaurants, in what could turn out to be a playbook it repeats in the rest of the world.

A trial of the paper replacements has been taking place at a handful of restaurants since April and was found to be a success, with the majority of customers supporting the effort to protect the environment.

The announcement comes after the fast food chain said in March that it would remove plastic straws, of which it uses around 1.8 million every day in Britain.

"We hope this work will support industry wide change and bring sustainable solutions to scale", Executive Vice President of Global Supply Chain and Sustainability Francesca DeBiase said.

The paper straws will be sourced from suppliers in Northern Ireland and Wales.

The chain has also begun testing alternatives to plastic straws in Belgium. And in Malaysia, McDonald's will try a new approach to dispensing straws - giving them out only if a customer requests one.

Most straws are made from plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene, which unless recycled take hundreds of years to decompose.

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Muscat highlighted however that Malta was willing to help avoid humanitarian crises. The country has seen more than 700,000 migrants arrive on its shores since 2013.

"We all have a responsibility to our environment and this simple yet effective initiative is a fine example to other large businesses", he said.

In May, the Restaurants Association of Ireland called on its 2,500 members to implement a ban on single-use straws.

The Sum of Us petition calling for the change had warned that many plastic straws ended up polluting the ocean, harming seabirds and marine life.

McDonald's also plans to test alternatives to plastic straws in some of its locations in France, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and Australia, as well as in some of its more than 14,000 US restaurants.

Some manufacturers have previously argued against the removal of plastic straws because they are needed by some people with disabilities, children and the elderly.

It comes amid growing pressures on companies to reduce single-use plastic products and packaging, over concerns on the environmental impacts.

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