Reports: McDonald’s to Pilot Alternatives to Plastic Straws

World | Sustainable Development

Photo-illustration: Pixabay

McDonald’s has become the latest big name brand to step up efforts to tackle plastic waste, revealing it is to trial more sustainable alternatives to plastic straws and is closing in on ensuring 100 per cent of its packaging is recyclable.

In an interview with Sky News, McDonald’s UK boss Paul Pomroy said the company would soon be trialling paper straws in two of its restaurants, as part of a wider effort to reduce plastic straw waste.

“[One thing] we’re looking to do is to move to recycled paper on the straws and biodegradeable paper straws,” he said. “That test, I’m really proud to say, will start next month, here in and around London.”

He added that all McDonald’s restaurants would also seek to reduce the number of plastic straws they hand out. “Customers have told us that they don’t want to just be given a straw, they want to have to ask for one, because straws is one of those things that people feel passionately about, and rightly so,” hetold the broadcaster. “We’re now moving those straws behind the front counter, so if you come into McDonalds going forward, starting next month, you’re going to be asked if you want a straw.”

Pomroy also confirmed work was continuing to ensure all of the company’s packaging is recyclable. “Eighty per cent of what you have in Mcdonald’s is now recyclable, we’ve offered recycling facilities for our customers and I’m really proud of the journey we’ve been on,” he said. “The only thing left for us now to move forward on is the lids that go on to our cups, we’re working with our suppliers… We’re really close. It’s one of those things, technology is advancing all the time and we hope within the next year to be able to have a hot lid and a cold lid that serves the same purpose that’s recyclable.”

The news comes on the same day as the government announced it is to consult on the introduction of a national Deposit Return Scheme that could cover all drinks containers.

It also follows a raft of pledges from retailers and hospitality firms to crack down on plastic packaging, including McDonald’s recent global announcement it is to accelerate efforts to curb packaging waste and adopt a science-based emissions target.

In related news, Starbucks last week stepped up its efforts to ensure disposable coffee cups are more widely recycled with the announcement of a $10m partnership with Closed Loop Partners and its Center for the Circular Economy to deliver a new “NextGen Cup Challenge”.

The coffee chain said the technology challenge was “the first step in the development of a global end-to-end solution that would allow cups around the world to be diverted from landfills and composted or given a second life as another cup, napkin or even a chair – anything that can use recycled material”.

Colleen Chapman, vice president of Starbucks global social impact, said the project amounted to a “moon shot for sustainability”.

“No one is satisfied with the incremental industry progress made to date, it’s just not moving fast enough,” she said. “So… we are declaring a moon shot for sustainability to work together as an industry to bring a fully recyclable and compostable cup to the market, with a three-year ambition.”

The company said the industry-wide technology challenge would run alongside an internal research project to trial a new bio-liner, made partially from plant-based materials, for use in paper cups. The six month internal trial will test both the environmental impact of the new material and whether the cup’s liner can meet stringent safety and quality standards. Starbucks said the trial marked the 13th internal test of its kind in the last year alone, as the company works to deliver a “Greener Cup”.