The decision to use paper straws came after a trial at various outlets and it will be implemented in 1,361 of its outlets in the UK. Nearly 490,000 people have signed their petition calling for an outright ban on plastic straws and the campaign reached new heights as one member submitted a shareholder proposal to last month's AGM asking the firm to report on its use of plastic straws. Two weeks ago, A&W Canada announced that it will eliminate plastic straws from its locations by January 2019, making it the first restaurant chain of its kind in North America to do so. "We spotted a huge opportunity, and we went for it", Transcend Packaging sales and marketing director Mark Varney told The Guardian.
The burger chain and other fast-food companies are facing increasing pressure from customers and environmental activists to stop using plastic straws because they can end up in the ocean and harm sea turtles, birds and other marine life.
But he said a trial now running in Taupō, in which customers were asked if they needed a straw, was working well. For example, "McDonald's, bless them, understood the massive difference to the environment", said Varney, and embraced the paper straw for the company's public image and the good of the environment. However, the rest of the 36,000 restaurants of McDonald's around the globe will remain unaffected. "Once a giant brand like McDonald's says they are switching to paper, I suspect everyone else will follow", he said.
McDonald's will begin using paper straws in its United Kingdom locations and test out alternatives to plastic in the US this year, the fast food giant announced. Consumers have launched campaigns including The Last Straw, Straw Wars, Straws Suck and No Straw Please to encourage businesses to reduce the use of plastic straws.
While paper straws are marginally more expensive than plastic straws, there are numerous benefits not captured in the numbers. "And research shows there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the world's oceans by 2050", writes Lauren Said-Moorhouse for CNNMoney. Plastic straws cost about 10p per thousand, compared to 14-15p for paper alternatives. "We think we are going to need 20 machines to fulfil what we want to deliver into the marketplace".