McDonald’s & KFC begin phasing out plastic straws

McDonald’s & KFC are the latest restaurant chains to join the war against plastic and phase out plastic straws across several of their outlets. However, this will most likely only be in their in overseas markets. This follows earlier news from McDonald’s claiming they’re “really close” to the point where all its packaging can be recycled.

Even though oceans cover more than 70 percent of the Earth, humans have dumped so much plastic into them that animals such as pilot whales are dying from consuming it. By 2050, according to a prediction from the MacArthur Foundation, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. That’s unless something drastically changes in the meantime.

“The problem with plastic straws is that they rarely end up in recycle bins. And because they are small and light, they blow around quickly into our oceans and waterways, and can get picked up by turtles and seabirds,” Sondhya Gupta, a senior campaign manager at SumOfUs.

And plastic’s not just in the oceans. A recent study showed that 83 percent of the world’s tap water contains plastic microfibres, and water sold in plastic bottles contains even more of them.

Plastic straws are just the beginning

McDonald’s currently uses about 1.8 million plastic straws daily across its 1,361 restaurants in the UK and Ireland. Their phasing out of plastic straws will begin this September, with plans of completion by 2019.

Meanwhile, KFC announced it will no longer provide plastic straws and plastic cup lids in its 84 restaurants in Singapore. However, plastic drink covers will continue to be provided for takeaway beverages. The change is expected to save about 18 tons of plastic each year, the company said. In addition, it will soon roll out more biodegradable packaging in various countries.

Both fast food chains have been relatively quiet on their environmental push in the United States, though; last month, McDonald’s shareholders voted against a proposal to stop offering plastic straws in all its US locations. It’s believed that the effort to reduce plastics in this market will be more challenging, primarily due to its sheer size.

Still, for McDonald’s & KFC to remove plastic straws from their restaurants is a big step in the right direction. What are your thoughts?