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January 26, 2023
Fast food chain McDonald’s stopped using plastic straws in the UK and Ireland last fall and replaced them with paper ones made from recyclable materials. It turns out though the new straws can’t be recycled. The plastic ones could, according to CNN.
McDonald’s were praised for an environmentally sound move when it replaced the 1.8 million plastic straws it uses every day in the UK and Ireland. It said the move was part of a wider effort to protect the environment. Now the British newspaper The Sun revealed an internal memo that said the paper straws were not able to be recycled and should be put in the general waste bin.
“While the materials are recyclable, their current thickness makes it difficult for them to be processed by our waste solution providers, who also help us recycle our paper cups,” a McDonald’s spokesman told the UK’s Press Association news agency, as CNN reported.
The straws are manufactured by Transcend Packaging, based in Ebbw Vale, south Wales.
Some customers were unhappy with the new straws, stating they dissolved before they could finish their drink, with milkshakes particularly hard to drink.
“As a result of customer feedback, we have strengthened our paper straws, so while the materials are recyclable, their current thickness makes it difficult for them to be processed by our waste solution providers, who also help us recycle our paper cups,” a McDonald’s spokesman said.
McDonald’s said it was working to find a solution, and that current advice, as first reported by The Sun, to put paper straws in general waste was therefore temporary. “This waste from our restaurants does not go to landfill, but is used to generate energy,” they added.
A petition by McDonald’s customers to bring back plastic straws has so far garnered 51,000 signatures.
The move away from plastic straws follows a backlash to the product after a 2015 viral video showed in graphic, gory detail the process of extracting a plastic straw from a sea turtle’s nose. And the British government has put in place a ban on plastic drinks stirrers, straws and plastic-stemmed cotton swabs starting in April 2020.
“It really can’t be that difficult to replace plastic straws,” said Ed Davey, the UK’s former secretary of Energy and Climate Change. “People will be left wondering where this was just greenwash or a monumental cock-up.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: EATER.COM