In the United States alone, 500 million straws are thrown away every day. That’s enough straws to wrap around the Earth 2.5 times each day, according to One Less Straw. Customers are starting to demand sustainable alternatives to plastic straws.
Starting this summer, Seattle will ban plastic straws and utensils in all businesses that sell food and drinks. In California, there’s a bill being considered that would require restaurants to only give straws when customers request them. Scotland plans to be plastic straw free by the end of 2019.
McDonald’s is responding to this push by eliminating plastic straws in its 1,300 stores in the U.K. and switching to biodegradable paper straws, which diners will have to ask for. They won’t automatically be handed out with each beverage.
The switch from plastic to paper is a test to see how people react to the change. If it’s successful in the U.K., McDonald’s may implement the push in other countries as well.
Alternatives to plastic straws
McDonald’s, like many other retailers, are opting for a paper alternative to plastic straws. That’s not the only option, but paper certainly is the most sustainable and cost-effective solution for mass produced, single-use straws. Bamboo, glass and metal straws are becoming increasingly popular and are a great option for reusable straws at home.