UK: McDonald’s Replaces Plastic Straws with ‘Eco-Friendly’ Paper Ones… that Can’t Be Recycled

A container with a drink is served at the McDonald's fast-food outlet on February 26, 2015 in Lille, northern France. Several labour unions and a charity have formally accused McDonald's of cheating the French tax payer of hundred of millions of dollars by siphoning off European earnings through a Luxembourg …
PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images

McDonalds UK has replaced their “100 per cent recyclable” plastic straws with “eco-friendly” papers ones that cannot be recycled.

An internal memo seen by The Sun revealed that the new paper straws actually cannot be recycled, the document reading: “Paper straws are not yet recyclable and should be disposed of in general waste until further notice.”

A spokesman for the fast-food chain confirmed to The Sun that the paper straws had to be strengthened after negative customer feedback, so “while the materials are recyclable, their thickness makes it difficult for them to be processed by our waste solution providers” and that they should be binned as a temporary measure.

An insider criticised the company for the environmentalist “stunt”, remarking: “When McDonald’s introduced paper straws it was getting pats on the back for being environmentally responsible.

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

McDonalds customers had complained that the straws make it difficult to drink milkshakes and that they dissolve in carbonated drinks. The company axed plastic straws in September, replacing them with the papers ones in their 1,361 branches across the UK and Ireland.

In 2015, then-Prime Minister David Cameron introduced a 5p tax on plastic supermarket carrier bags. Despite reducing the number used by 86 per cent, the government is considering an increase on the levy to 10p per bag, and will include bags provided by smaller shops employing fewer than 250 people, which are currently free.

Environmental activists have been pressuring British companies to ditch single-use plastics due to plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

Last year, the official Earth Day website published a list of the worst countries for polluting the world’s waterways with mismanaged plastic waste. The top polluter was China, followed by Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. The United States was 20th, and apart from two other countries (Turkey and Brazil) every other ocean-polluting nation was in Africa or Asia. Neither the UK nor one single European nation were listed in the top 20.

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