28 March 2018
Fast food giant McDonalds has announced that a trial of paper straws, to replace plastic ones, will be done in two of its stores in May. The company says it plans to widen the move to all of its outlets in future. The Marine Conservation Society says this is a positive start, but needs to be seen as just the beginning of the end of single-use plastic items provided by the company, and across the convenience food industry.
We really want to see all plastic straws being removed from all the fast food chains. On the go litter, including straws, makes up around 20% of all the rubbish we find on beaches, showing that customers clearly do not choose to recycle convenience packaging.
The move, announced today, will see a trial of paper straw use in two McDonalds stores. The chain already encourages its restaurants to make its plastic straws available on request only, following the success of campaigns by MCS and others to take #thelaststrawchallenge and ditch single-use plastic straws. MCS has enabled almost 10,000 people to make appeal pledges to demand that big fast food chains stop giving out millions of plastic cups, stirrers, straws and cutlery but instead replace them with reusable or fully compostable alternatives.
Emma Cunningham, MCS Senior Pollution Campaigns Officer says: “This could turn out to be a really big step, if it is the beginning of a move by the chain to ditch the use of single-use plastic. On the go litter, including straws, makes up around 20% of all the rubbish we find on beaches, showing that customers clearly do not choose to recycle convenience packaging.”
The UK uses an estimated 8.5 billion straws a year, and plastic straws are one of the top 10 items found in our beach clean-ups. Firms such as JD Wetherspoon, Wagamama, Costa Coffee, Pizza Express and Waitrose have all started phasing out plastic straws completely, or offering them on request only.
“We really want to see all plastic straws being removed from all the fast food chains”, Emma continues. “When will KFC, Burger King, Starbucks, Subway and the like move away from single use plastic items? Straws are a great way to start, and by switching to a paper or bamboo straw and only having these available on request, we can start to see the behaviour change that is needed.”
MCS’s appeal to tackle the rising problem of plastic in our seas is at www.mcsuk.org/stop-the-plastic-tide.
MCS is currently calling on UK governments to put a charge on single-use plastic throwaway items and demanding that big fast food chains stop giving out millions of plastic cups, stirrers, straws and cutlery but instead replace them with reusable or fully compostable alternatives.