A petition from international consumer group SumOfUs is calling on McDonald’s to stop using plastic straws. While the fast food giant recently pledged to make all packaging from recycled or renewable materials by 2025, the consumer group says it is concerned that no detail has been supplied regarding plastic straws in particular.
The petition has so far been signed by more than 370,000 people worldwide.
“McDonald’s has taken a step in the right direction by committing to more sustainable practices, but recycled plastic is still plastic, and until the company promises to ditch plastic straws altogether, it will continue to pollute our oceans and kill marine life,” says Sondhya Gupta, campaigner at SumOfUs.
“The fast food giant gives millions of these straws to customers every day. Taking them out of use would be a major step towards cleaning up our seas and protecting wildlife.”
Earlier this month PizzaExpress became the largest restaurant chain yet to begin to phase out plastic straws across its 460 sites in the UK. The company says it is switching to biodegradable alternatives made from corn starch or paper by the summer.
London restaurant group D&D has already banned plastic straws across its 40 restaurants and bars as part of a wider move to reduce waste across the business and has switched to an eco-friendly variety.
The restaurant group estimates it used 1.89 million straws in 2017 – just 44,000 of which were made from compostable materials. It is aiming to halve the overall number of straws it uses this year.
Other hospitality groups that have stopped using plastic straws include JD Wetherspoon, All Bar One, The Alchemist and Oakmann Inns. Chef Jason Atherton has also stopped using plastic straws in his restaurant group.
Various hospitality and food and drink associations are now encouraging their members to ditch their plastic straws in favour of greener ones. The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) is working with the British Institute of Innkeeping to promote alternatives to plastics. It says it has removed them from its own industry and parliamentary events.
“The Government has already outlined its intention to tackle the use of single-use plastic and the issue is one that many members of the public feel passionately about,” says ALMR Chief Executive Kate Nicholls. “There is clearly an appetite for businesses to investigate sustainable alternatives to plastic straws.”
The Scotch Whisky Association has also announced that it will be phasing out plastic straws across all its operations, and will be urging its members to follow suit.
The moves are a response to growing concerns that plastic waste is choking the world’s oceans, polluting the environment and killing wildlife, as highlighted in the recent BBC wildlife documentary Blue Planet II.