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Environmentalists applauds McDonald’s decision to ditch plastic

The fast food giant plans to remove all plastic straws from its restaurants by 2020, a decision applauded by environmentalists

As part of a global initiative to clean up the environment, McDonald’s Australia will start to phase out plastic straws from its restaurants.

The fast food giant is responding to mounting pressure to ditch plastic straws amid concerns about the pollution they cause. A paper straw alternative will be trialled in two outlets in August before making the switch across all 970 restaurants by 2020.

McDonald’s Australia supply chain director, Robert Sexton, said to the media: “As one of the world’s largest businesses, we know we have the responsibility and opportunity to make significant changes.”

McDonald’s said the trail is part of a long-term global effort to identify alternatives to the single-use plastic straws by having all guest packaging made from renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025, a move that environmentalists have applauded.

Greenpeace spokesperson, Simon Black, told AAP: “It’s wonderful McDonald’s is making a commitment to reducing consumption of single-use plastic and we look forward to seeing more detail around this proposal to see the overall impact.”

This comes after UK McDonald’s announced it would phase out plastic straws with plans to implement paper straws in UK and Ireland restaurants by 2019. A McDonald’s Australia spokesperson said the paper straws would be the same sample.

On top of this, US McDonald’s has committed $10 million to help launch a program with Starbucks and Closed Loop to develop a recyclable or compostable cup solution to drive packaging innovation and reduce waste.

McDonald’s Australia began trialling cup recycling in April by separating dining room bins into liquids, plastics, paper cups and general waste.

“Beverage cups are a unique concern when it comes to recycling through normal paper recycling facilities due to the inner plastic lining,” Sexton said.

“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.”

This is the latest in a plastic bag ban sweeping Australia. The mounting pressure from consumers, however, has made it difficult for some retailers to implement the changes, including for supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths.

Sexton assures that the straw alternatives will still suit the Australian consumer. saying: “We know plastic straws is a topic our customers are passionate about and we will find a viable solution.”

This announcement follows Starbuck’s decision to eliminate plastic straws from all its stores within two years to combat the environmental threat to oceans.

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