McDonald's working to remove plastic straws from UK restaurants

In response to what McDonald's is calling a “hugely important issue,” the chain's U.K. restaurants may soon ban plastic straws as a means to cut down on waste.

On Wednesday, McDonald’s U.K. announced that a small chunk of its 1,300 locations in Britain will be switching over to biodegradable paper straws come May, as part of a trial run, Sky News reports.

Plastic straws, meanwhile, will be kept behind the counter, and offered to customers upon request.

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"Customers have told us that they don't want to be given a straw and that they want to have to ask for one, so we're acting on that,” said Paul Pomroy, chief executive officer of McDonald’s U.K., in an interview with Sky News.

"Straws are one of those things that people feel passionately about, and rightly so, and we're moving those straws behind the front counter,” Pomroy added. "If you come into McDonald's going forward, you'll be asked if you want a straw.”

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As it stands, the plastic straws McDonald’s offers are already 100 percent recyclable, but the company claims most customers simply throw them away, according to Fortune. Pomroy believes their biodegradable replacements, therefore, will solve a growing problem — not only within the fast-food industry, but other areas as well.

"The reduction in use of plastics is a hugely important issue for business, for the sector, and for society,” he told Sky News.

Pomroy didn’t specify how the company plans to proceed should the trial prove successful. He did, however, confirm that McDonald’s is currently working toward recyclable drink lids, which he calls “the only thing left for us to move forward on.”

mcdonald's straw istock

Paul Pomroy, the chief executive officer for McDonald's U.K., said the company plans to redesign its plastic drink lids next.  (iStock)

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The company’s announcement comes as the U.K. increases its efforts to reduce plastic waste. Several cities across the U.S., too, are currently enacting measures to curtail the use of plastic straws or one-time-use utensils, including Seattle and Malibu, Calif.