McDonald’s to switch to paper straws in U.K., Ireland

A McDonald's Big Mac meal

The roll-out in 1,361 branches will begin in September and aim to be completed next year.

The fast food chain's unprecedented move - which will also affect all restaurants in Ireland - will come into effect in September.

McDonald's said that plastic straws would still be available "for those that require it", but they will be kept behind the counter.

The chain has been working with start-up Transcend Packaging, based in Wales, and Huhtamaki, an global company that will produce the straws in Belfast.

The Marine Conservation Society said about 70% of litter on beaches was made of plastic with items such as straws, cups and stirrers making up over 20% of the litter.

"McDonald's is committed to using our scale for good and working to find sustainable solutions for plastic straws globally", Global Supply Chain and Sustainability Executive Vice President Francesca DeBiase said in a news release.

The restaurant chain has conducted a trial of the paper replacements at a handful of venues since April, and found customers reacted positively to the change, with the majority supporting the effort to protect the environment.

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The company will be switching to paper straws in a bid to reduce plastic waste.

The move supports McDonald's goal to source all of its packaging from renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025 and to have recycling in all restaurants globally.

Burger King, Wagamama and JD Wetherspoon have all ditched plastic straws in the a year ago.

'Over the past few months we've been working closely with supplier partners to find a solution that works both for our customers, and that the supply is there given the size of our business.

Later this year, McDonald's will begin testing alternatives in some restaurants in the United States, France, Sweden, Norway and Australia.

In some other countries, straws are being offered on request only.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove called it a "significant contribution" to helping the environment, adding that it was "a fine example to other large businesses".

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