McDonald’s defends ‘eco-friendly’ non-recyclable paper straws

Fast food chain says putting paper straws in general waste is a temporary measure

Sarah Young,Katie O'Malley
Tuesday 06 August 2019 10:35
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McDonald’s has come out in defence of its “eco-friendly” paper straws after it revealed the company is unable to recycle them, claiming that “everyone is in the same position”.

In September 2018, the fast food chain replaced its recyclable plastic straws with paper ones across all of its UK and Ireland restaurants in a bid to become more environmentally conscious.

However, McDonald’s has confirmed that, while the materials which make up its paper straws are recyclable, their current thickness means they must be disposed of in general waste.

“While the materials are recyclable, their current thickness makes it difficult for them to be processed by our waste solution providers, who also help us recycle our paper cups,” a McDonald’s spokesperson said on Monday.

“We are working with them to find a solution, and so the advice to put paper straws in general waste is therefore temporary.

“This waste from our restaurants does not go to landfill but is used to generate energy.”

A spokesperson later told the i that the paper straws are recyclable “in theory” but that the facilities aren’t in place to recycle them.

“Infrastructure isn’t [keeping up with] innovation,” they told the publication.

“As far as we understand it everyone’s in the same position…It’s not just a challenge we’re facing.”

The announcement comes after an internal memo, which revealed the company’s paper straws were thrown away by staff, was reportedly leaked by an insider.

“When McDonald’s introduced paper straws it was getting pats on the back for being environmentally responsible,” an insider reportedly told The Sun.

“But it seems like it was a stunt to appease green campaigners because the things go straight in the rubbish. It’s ridiculously stupid.”

Before the switch, McDonald’s had previously admitted to using 1.8m plastic straws in its UK restaurants every day.

The company said its plastic straws were “100 per cent recyclable” but that it changed to paper because “more can be done” to help the environment.

The paper straws have since come under fire from customers who claim they make it difficult to drink milkshakes.

While some complained that the paper straws had a “weird disgusting after taste”, others argued that the replacement was ”not fit for purpose” as the straws often “snap or disintegrate”.

One customer tweeted: “With the paper straws they are fine for coke but the other day I had a milkshake and I struggled so so much that I ended up getting one of my own plastic straws at home.”

Another added: “Yo @McDonaldsUK how I meant to drink my milkshake outta this lmao. Stop with the paper straws…[sic].”

Customers have been so upset that one even launched a petition, which has now garnered more than 51,000 signatures, calling for McDonald’s to bring back plastic straws.

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