If you’re a McDonald’s lover, you’ve probably feared one of your favorite go-to food items being taken off the menu. Which one was it this time that they were debating—the 6-piece nuggets? The double cheeseburger? The French fries? It couldn’t have been the French fries…
Don’t worry, fast-foodites! It wasn’t a menu item that McDonald’s was thinking of getting rid of. It’s actually something we use to eat, or rather, drink. And actually, they’re not even getting rid of it at all. But they did think about it.
You guessed it—it’s their plastic straws.
If this seems a little random, know that the McDonald’s chains across the United Kingdom have recently done away with their plastic straws and are using paper straws instead in an effort to be a little more environmentally friendly. After all, as a whole, McDonald’s distributes a whopping 95 million straws around the world every day, according to SumOfUs, an international corporate watchdog organization.
While the U.K. locations still have plastic straws at their locations, you have to request them now if you want one. Seems like a good way to start phasing them out, right?
Because of the U.K. change, which seems to be going pretty well, McDonald’s shareholders have recently held a annual company meeting to decide if chains in the U.S. would also be getting rid of their plastic straws. However, they voted against the ban and have decided to keep them.
A shareholder proposal backed by a consumer group received only 7.65% of the vote. It turns out replacing plastic straws with paper ones would required McDonald’s to prepare a report to shareholders about the business risks of using plastic straws.
“The problem with plastic is that it never disappears. It breaks into smaller and smaller pieces,” said marine biologist and SumOfUs member Elaine Leung. “Although many of you may see plastic straws as a harmless little item, they soon add up and their size means they pose a particular hazard.”
Though they decided against getting rid of plastic straws, McDonald’s is still determined to begin working towards taking steps to cut waste and be more sustainable.
“We continue to work to find a more sustainable solution for plastic straws globally and are currently assessing and testing various alternatives to plastic straws in several markets to ensure that high customer experience standards are maintained,” said a rep for McDonald’s. “These actions are part of our broader efforts to source 100% of packaging from renewable, recycled, or certified sources by 2025 and to have guest packaging recycling in all restaurants.”
While they did vote “no” to getting rid of the straws, if you’re interested in still fighting for it, there’s a SumOfUs petition calling for the fast-food joint to stop using them—and almost 500,000 people have signed it!
“Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats to our oceans, and straws are one of the most common plastic items found in beach cleanups,” explained Sondhya Gupta, campaigner at SumOfUs.“McDonald’s 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.”
Maybe it’s not too late. What are your thoughts on the shareholders vote not to get rid of plastic straws? Do you agree or disagree with their decision?