McDonald’s recently admitted that the paper straws it rolled out last year in its UK and Ireland restaurants are not recyclable. This news marks the latest PR snag for the multinational restaurant corporation’s switch from plastic straws.
McDonald’s replaced plastic straws with biodegradable paper straws at these restaurants in 2018, after other corporations stopped using plastic straws. The switch to paper was also necessary, as the UK government banned single-use plastic straws and drink stirrers. At OkStraw, we understand this issue, but we are not dissuaded from standing behind eco-friendly straws.
McDonald’s in the UK and Ireland is advising people to treat their new straws as waste items.
Paper Straw Struggles
McDonald’s paper straw switch had growing pains with its customers. People initially complained that these biodegradable straws were collapsing in milkshakes, and were dissolving too quickly. Photos of McDonald’s-branded drinks with bent, soggy and collapsed straws began spreading across social media platforms.
McDonald’s responded to these complaints by making their biodegradable paper straws thicker, but this caused new problems. These new straws were too thick to be recycled by waste processing machines. McDonald’s announced that it is working with its waste management providers to resolve this issue. Until then, however, McDonald’s in the UK and Ireland is advising people to throw their new straws in the trash.
Single-use plastic straws are almost never recycled
Real Cost of Biodegradable Straws
Critics pointed out that McDonald’s replaced recyclable plastic straws with non-recyclable paper straws. While this may be true in theory, in reality, single-use plastic straws are almost never recycled. Most recycling facilities cannot process plastic straws, because they are too flimsy. Plastic straws end up as trash, and often wreak havoc on our environment.
While some biodegradable straws are not easily recyclable, what they do to the environment is a world of difference from plastic straws. Organic paper that end up in waters safely biodegrades, and does not endanger animals. Plastic straws on the other hand will continue to endanger the wellbeing of marine animals and eventually humans. At OkStraw, we know the real cost of paper straws is far less than plastic straws.
McDonald's Sticks to Paper Straws
While some people want McDonald’s to bring back plastic straws, the company is holding steady to its paper commitment. With the UK’s plastic straw ban and growing public support for the ban, McDonald’s is on the right path.
We at OKStraw would like to commend McDonald’s for committing to end plastic waste. Yes, they may face some disapproval, and there will be growing pains. Ultimately, however, the most important things in our lives are the ones worth fighting for. We only have one planet, and keeping it healthy might be the most important of all.