McDonald's to phase out plastic straws in the UK and Ireland

  • McDonald's to commence a phased rollout of paper straws in all 1,361 of its sites in the U.K. and Ireland.
  • The fast food giant joins a growing number of major companies looking to reduce their use of plastic.
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Fast food giant McDonald's is to move away from using plastic straws in its U.K. and Ireland restaurants.

In an announcement Friday, the business said it would commence a phased rollout of paper straws in all 1,361 of its sites in the two countries. The transition is set to start in September and will be completed by 2019.

"McDonald's is committed to using our scale for good and working to find sustainable solutions for plastic straws globally," Francesca DeBiase, McDonald's executive vice president of global supply chain and sustainability, said in a statement.

The business has also started to test alternatives to plastic straws in Belgium. It will do the same later this year in a number of restaurants in the U.S., France, Australia, Norway and Sweden. Tests will also take place in a number of markets, including Malaysia, to offer straws only when they are requested by customers.

"We hope this work will support industry wide change and bring sustainable solutions to scale," DeBiase added.

The issue of plastic waste is a serious one. Europeans produce 25 million tons of plastic waste per year, according to the European Commission. Less than 30 percent of this is collected for recycling.

McDonald's joins a growing number of major companies looking to reduce their use of plastic. In January, U.K. supermarket Iceland, which specializes in frozen food, made a commitment to eliminate plastic packaging from its own brand products by 2023. The same month, bottled water brand Evian said it would produce all its plastic bottles from 100 percent recycled plastic by the year 2025.