London, June 15 (IANS) McDonald’s is set to replace its plastic straws with paper ones across all its outlets in the UK and Ireland from September.
The roll-out of the paper alternative came amid pressure on companies to opt out of some single-use plastic products which can take hundreds of years to decompose if not recycled. The global fast food chain uses a staggering 1.8 million straws a day in the UK, the BBC reported.
“Reflecting the broader public debate, our customers told us they wanted to see a move on straws,” the firm said on Friday. The switch to paper straws will be completed next year.
McDonald’s said its decision followed a successful trial in selected restaurants earlier this year. The ban does not yet extend to the rest of the chain’s global empire but trials will begin in selected restaurants in the US, France and Norway.
UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove called it a “significant contribution” to helping the environment and said it was “a fine example to other large businesses”.
In April, the government proposed a ban on plastic straws and cotton buds in England. But many businesses, including Waitrose, Costa Coffee and Wagamama, have already started to take action.
However, not everyone favoured plastic straw ban.
Plastic straws enable many disabled people to drink independently, according to Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. She said paper alternatives were not always suitable or safe.
Tetra Pak — the food packaging company — said plastic straws served a “vital” function in cartons and should not be banned.
It argued that straws can be recycled together with cartons if they are pushed back into the box.
“The government’s ambitious plans, combined with strong customer opinion, has helped to accelerate the move away from plastic and I’m proud that we’ve been able to play our part,” said Paul Pomroy, chief executive of McDonald’s UK and Ireland.