McDonald's to swap out plastic straws for paper alternatives in UK, Ireland

McDonald's announced it will begin testing plastic straw alternatives in the U.S. and transitioning to paper straws in the U.K

Now, McDonald's, the world's largest fast-food chain, says it will begin transitioning away from plastic to paper straws in U.S., U.K., and Ireland restaurants later this year, with plans to move to France, Sweden, and Norway before stretching the shift further across the globe.

"McDonald's is committed to using our scale for good and working to find sustainable solutions for plastic straws globally".

Today, McDonald's announced a phased rollout of paper straws in all 1,361 McDonald's restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland with completion set for 2019 as well as plans to test alternatives to plastic straws in multiple markets throughout the globe later this year.

The company said it would also experiment with offering straws on request only in some global markets.

However, McDonald's said it is looking for solutions in other countries.

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It is estimated that McDonald's uses as many as 1.8 million straws per day in the United Kingdom and the Golden Arches has committed to having its entire packaging be from recycled, renewable or certified sources before 2025. Concern has been growing about pollution caused by plastic waste in the ocean. On Friday, Greenpeace UK called on McDonald's to ditch plastic straws worldwide immediately as well as all unnecessary plastic.

The flurry of commitments comes as efforts to eliminate single-use plastic intensify.

Some manufacturers have previously argued against the removal of plastic straws because they are needed by some people with disabilities, children and the elderly. Environmental activists estimate that millions of plastic straws are used by McDonald's customers every day and are quickly discarded.

The European Union proposed a ban on 10 single-use plastic products to reduce the amount of plastic garbage that is found in their countries' beaches and bodies of water.

McDonald's is not alone in its plastic straw ban. In April, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the United Kingdom would look to ban plastic-stemmed cotton swabs, stirrers and straws. However, customers who really want a plastic straw will still be able to get one by asking.

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