Australians, you’ll be sipping your thickshake through a paper straw at McDonald’s pretty soon — plastic straws are out.
One week after Starbucks announced it would phase out plastic straws by 2020, McDonald’s has unveiled similar plans to phase them out in Australia by the same year.
The fast good giant will roll out the ban to its 970 restaurants around the country over the next four years, and the first trials will begin in August 2018.
The full global switch to paper straws will only be taking place in Australia, the UK and Ireland for now, but McDonald’s confirmed testing of alternatives has already begun in Belgium, and will begin later this year in the US, France, Sweden and Norway.
The ban is all part of McDonald’s global sustainability strategy, which runs parallel to mounting public pressure on takeaway companies to limit their single-use plastic straws and containers in order to reduce marine pollution.
“As one of the world’s largest restaurant businesses, we know we have the responsibility and opportunity to make significant change,” said Robert Sexton, McDonald’s Australia Director of Supply Chain, in a press statement.
“We know plastic straws is a topic our customers are passionate about and we will find a viable solution.”
McDonald’s is also currently trialing cup recycling in eight restaurants, which includes segmented dining room bins to separate liquids, plastics, paper cups and general waste. Plus, McDonald’s Australia has apparently been working with local suppliers in order to find a paper alternative to the plastic straws, according to a press statement.
In June, McDonald’s UK announced a phasing out of plastic straws in the wake of the UK government announcing plans to ban the sale of plastic straws, and other single-use plastic items.
In April, UK Prime Minister Theresa May called on Australia to match Britain’s pledge, although Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has not committed to a plastic straw ban.
However, while straws are yet to make it to the banned list in Australia, and lobby groups like The Last Straw continue to put pressure on the government to do so, the states of Queensland and Western Australia have banned single-use, lightweight plastic bags from major retailers, aligning with other state bans in the ACT, South Australia, and Tasmania. Victoria has set a ban to come into place during 2018, leaving New South Wales the only state without a ban.
It’s also a big win for the global plastic straw ban movement. Numerous cities across the U.S., including Seattle, Oakland, Malibu, and Miami Beach, have already banned single-use plastic straws. In New York City, a councilman has introduced legislation to ban straws there, too. And celebrities like Adrian Grenier, who co-founded the Lonely Whale Foundation, have been on the #StopSucking grind for years.
But how effective is a straw ban, really? We unpacked it all for you.
Additional reporting by Sam Haysom and Chloe Bryan.