McDonald's to phase out plastic straws from September

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McDonald's said Friday it will switch to paper straws at all its locations in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and test an alternative to plastic ones in some of its US restaurants later this year.

McDonald's announced Friday that it would start testing an alternative to plastic straws in some of its US restaurants, and would completely phase out the products in some of its European locations.

"Additionally, customers have told us that they want to have to ask for a straw, so we're acting on that and moving them behind the counter", said Paul Pomroy, CEO of McDonald's United Kingdom.

Single-use straws are the scourge of the packaging-waste world because they don't easily biodegrade and aren't really necessary for most people when it comes to gulping a soft drink.

A trial of the paper replacements has been taking place at a handful of restaurants since April and was found to be a success, with the majority of customers supporting the effort to protect the environment.

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

The global fast food chain has 1,361 restaurants in the UK.

According to McDonald's, the new straws will use paper from certified sustainable sources.

In parts of Latin America and Malaysia, the company is starting to offer straws on request only.

Tetra Pak - the food packaging company - said plastic straws served a "vital" function in cartons and should not be banned.

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An increasing number of businesses are removing plastic straws from their operations in a bid to stem plastic waste which pollutes oceans and harms marine wildlife such as turtles and fish.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the initiative was "simple but effective" and is a "fine example to other large businesses".

It argues that straws can be recycled together with cartons if they are pushed back into the box.

McDonald's said that plastic straws would still be available "for those that require it", but they will be kept behind the counter.

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