McDonald’s UK to source paper straws and phase them in over 18 months

McDonald’s restaurants in the UK and Ireland will complete transition to paper straws in 2019, the company has promised.

The UK is leading the way with the move, but McDonald’s restaurants in Belgium are trialling alternatives to plastic straws and tests are planned for select restaurants in the US, France, Sweden, Norway and Australia later this year.

McDonald’s said it would implement a “phased” roll-out of paper straws in all 1,361 UK and Ireland restaurants, with the project set to take 18 months.

The switch will begin from September and supports McDonald’s goal to source 100% of guest packaging from renewable, recycled, or certified sources by 2025 and to have guest packaging recycling in all restaurants globally.

“McDonald’s is committed to using our scale for good and working to find sustainable solutions for plastic straws globally,” stated Francesca DeBiase executive VP, global supply chain and sustainability. “In addition to the exciting news from the UK, we are testing straw alternatives in other countries to provide the best experience for our customers. We hope this work will support industry wide change and bring sustainable solutions to scale.”

As well as the testing that is going on in other markets, McDonald’s is exploring the impact of offering straws upon request only in some countries. Trials have already begun in several markets, including Malaysia.

Last month McDonald’s shareholders used the chain’s AGM to demand the fast food giant rethinks its policy of distributing plastic straws globally following its decision to phase them out in the UK.

However, McDonald’s board recommended that shareholders vote against the proposal on the basis that the report is “unnecessary” and that initiatives are already in place to find cost-effective and sustainable alternatives for plastic straws worldwide.

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