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Environment

McDonald's Will Phase Out Plastic Straws From UK Restaurants

McDonald’s will be phasing out plastic straws from its restaurants across the UK — in its latest environmentally-friendly effort. 

The fast food chain will start trialling paper straws instead of the plastic ones at all 1,300 British outlets in May, it announced on Wednesday on Twitter.  

Straws will also be kept behind the counter so customers will have to ask if they want one. 

Take action: Fight Waste to Protect Our Oceans

“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 McDonald’s chief executive Paul Pomroy, 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.” 

“If you come into McDonald’s going forward, you’ll be asked if you want a straw,” he added. “The other thing we’re looking to do is to move to recycled paper on the straws and biodegradable paper straws and that test, I’m really proud to say, will start next month.” 

The plastic straws in the fast food restaurant can actually already be recycled, but most people still throw them in the rubbish bin. 

Read more: These Are the Biggest Recycling Mistakes You're Probably Making

McDonald’s is “really close” to all of its packaging being recyclable, according to Pomroy. In fact, the only item of packaging that can’t currently be recycled, he said, are the plastic drink lids. But the chain hopes to find a solution to the plastic lids “within the next year.” 

Some 3.7 million people reportedly visit McDonald’s every day in the UK, with around 90% of the British population visiting at least once a year. 

The announcement comes just a week after McDonald’s pledged to cut emissions in its restaurants and offices by 36% and across its supply chain by 31% by 2030, compared to 2015 levels. 

Read more: McDonald's Just Announced It Will Cut Emissions By a Third

It’s also part of a huge drive to cut down on single-use plastics, after the David Attenborough documentary “Blue Planet II” last year drove home exactly what plastics are doing to the marine environment. 

On Wednesday, the government announced that England will be getting a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans — a system that has achieved a 97% recycling rate in Germany. It will mean customers pay a small amount extra — to be decided in a consultation later this year — when they buy their drinks, which they will get back when they return the container for recycling. 

The scheme is part of the government’s 25-year plan, which aims to “set the global gold standard” on eliminating plastic, according to environment minister Michael Gove. 

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