McDonald’s Quits Using Plastic Straws in UK and Ireland, US and Other Countries May Follow
McDonald’s is going a little greener; it has ditched plastic straws throughout its restaurants in the U.K. and Ireland. No longer will plastic straws be used in any of the 1,361 branches of McDonald’s across the U.K. and Ireland. Industry sources say the restaurant will soon ban the use of plastic straws in the U.S., France, Norway and other parts of the world as well, Business Insider writes.
The ban takes effect in the U.K. and Ireland this September.
Millions of Birds and Ocean Animals Die Annually From Plastic Pollution
Paul Pomroy, chief executive of McDonald’s for the U.K. and Ireland said his company chose to ditch plastic straws because of consumer pressure. He said it’s also in response to the government’s campaign to reduce the use of plastics in industries and homes across the country.
In a recent article, the BBC reported that McDonald’s uses up to 1.8 million plastic straws in the U.K. alone. Eco-Cycle, a recycling non-profit organization reported that up to 500 million plastic straws are used every day in the United States alone. While plastic is recyclable, recycling plastic straws is expensive and time-consuming because of their small size.
As a result, millions of plastic straws end up in the ocean, where they pollute the ecosystem. Because plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose, the straws break down into microplastics and can end up consumed by ocean wildlife. About one million birds and over 100,000 marine animals die annually from plastic pollution in the waters.
British Prime Minister Theresa May Urges Commonwealth Nations to Ban Plastic Items
In the last year, five other major restaurant chains in the U.K. phased out the use of plastic straws: JD Wetherspoon, Burger King, Costa Coffee, Pizza Express and Wagamama.
According to a CNN report, up to 40 other companies in the U.K. including Coca-Cola, Nestle, Unilever and P&G are vowing to cut down on the amount of plastic they use starting this year.
Some plastic straw manufacturers, however, are mounting a campaign to fight back the shift in culture towards banning plastic straws. They say people with disabilities, children and the elderly need straws to eat and drink.
British Prime Minister Theresa May announced in April that the U.K. would soon consider banning plastic-stemmed cotton swabs, stirrers and straws while urging other countries within the Commonwealth to do the same.