While viable alternatives are being researched, the company is starting a trial of paper straws in two of it’s restaurants from August.
“As one of the world’s largest restaurant businesses, we know we have the responsibility and opportunity to make significant change,” said Robert Sexton, McDonald’s Australia director of supply chain.
The paper straw trial is part of a larger, global effort to identify sustainable alternatives to the single use plastic straws; furthering McDonald’s goal for 100 per cent of guest packaging to be from renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025, and to have all packaging recycled in all restaurants globally.
The fast-food chain isn’t alone. Last month Woolworths announced that it would stop selling plastic straws, amid its own effort to curb waste by also phasing out single-use plastic bags.
Starbucks signalled its intention to phase out plastic straws globally by 2020 last week, taking notice of the “tremendous momentum” of the global movement to eliminate plastic straws in a media statement.
Meanwhile, regulators in the UK are conducting consultation on a possible ban for single-use plastic straws in England.
Although there is still widespread disagreement about what a viable alternative to plastic straws is, particularly for those with disabilities who rely on the products for eating or drinking.
Funding the next generation of cups
McDonald’s is also trialling cup recycling through a partnership with Simply Cups, which launched in April in eight restaurants.
Sexton noted that beverage cups are a unique issue in regards to recycling, as they cannot be processed through normal paper recycling facilities dude to the inner plastic lining.
“By separating the cups through designated bins we can ensure cups are diverted to the right facility to recycle this material. Our trials will provide useful learnings that will help to determine next steps for potential wider restaurant implementation,” said Sexton.
McDonald’s Australia has a long history of making sustainable changes to its packaging; with removing plastic packaging in McFlurry cups in 2011, removing plastic salad bowls and replacing with the fibre alternative in 2013, and altering Sundae cups in 2015 leading to almost 250 tonnes of reduced plastic use annually.
Internationally, McDonald’s has announced it will be a founding member of the NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge, joining Starbucks to develop a global recyclable and/or compostable cup solution. The company has committed $5 million to help launch the challenge, bringing the total amount contributed to $10 million.
“McDonald’s is committed to using our scale for good to make positive changes that impact our planet and the communities we serve,” said Marion Gross, senior vice president and chief supply chain officer, McDonald’s USA.
The Challenge will kick off in September, and will bring together innovators, entrepreneurs, industry experts, and recyclers to submit ideas for the next generation of sustainable cups.
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