McDonald's has announced that it is getting rid of all plastic straws from its UK and Ireland stores starting from September.
The old plastic straws will be replaced with paper ones which can be recycled. The restaurant chain uses about 1.8 million plastic straws every day in the UK - each single use plastic straw can take up to hundreds of years to decompose if they aren't sent to be recycled.
After trialling this initiative earlier this year, the world's most popular fast food restaurant chain has decided that all of its UK and Ireland locations should follow suit.
A statement said: "Reflecting the broader public debate, our customers told us they wanted to see a move on straws,"
With any luck, this massive decision will lead to a complete removal of single use plastic straws from all of McDonald's restaurants worldwide. Trials are to take place in Norway, France and the USA soon - for now, the ban on plastic straws will only concern UK and Ireland restaurants.
However, in some countries, plastic straws must already be requested and aren't provided without asking.
The British government has been discussing the possibility of banning all single use plastic straws, but some businesses are acting ahead of time to eliminate them from their own locations. JD Wetherspoons switched to plastic straws at the start of 2018 and chain restaurant Pizza Express has also committed to removing them by this summer.
More than 60 music festivals, including Bestival, have also committed to eradicating plastic straws from all of their sites by 2021.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said that McDonald's was setting 'a fine example to other large businesses'.
Many of the straws that are given away with drinks are made up of plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene. These materials will not decompose for an incredibly long time if left unrecycled and can end up in oceans, causing great damage to wildlife and the environment.
Chief Executive of McDonald's operations in the UK and Ireland, Paul Pomroy, said: "The government's ambitious plans, combined with strong customer opinion, has helped to accelerate the move away from plastic and I'm proud that we've been able to play our part."
McDonald's CEO Paul Pomroy. Credit: PA
Not everyone is so keen though. Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson argued that plastic straws can help disabled people drink without assistance.
Meanwhile, packaging company Tetra Pak said: "We will continue to make the case that straws attached to our packages serve a vital functional purpose, and that bans are not the best way to tackle this issue, given the consequences of doing so."
The company also argued that pushing the straw back into the box allows for both packaging and straw to be recycled.
Featured Image Credit: PA