Canadian Plastics

McDonald’s new paper straws aren’t recyclable, company admits

The fast food company switched its straws from plastic to paper in June 2018, but says the new straws are too thick to recycle.

August 8, 2019   Canadian Plastics

Fast food chain McDonald’s has admitted that its paper straws are not recyclable, while the plastic ones they replaced were, a London-based newspaper is reporting.

The “eco-friendly” paper straws were introduced to all 1,361 McDonald’s restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland in June 2018, following a trial in selected McDonald’s restaurants earlier in 2018.

A leaked internal memo from McDonald’s, published by the UK’s The Sun newspaper on Aug. 4, said the new straws would be thrown away and burned, rather than recycled. “Paper straws are not yet recyclable and should be disposed of in general waste until further notice,” The Sun quoted the memo as saying.

Responding to the story, a McDonald’s spokesman told the UK’s Press Association news agency on Aug. 5 that “while the materials are recyclable, their current thickness makes it difficult for them to be processed by our waste solution providers, who also help us recycle our paper cups.”


This revelation is the latest setback for the company’s new paper straws. Customers have complained on social media that the straws dissolved before a drink could be finished, with milkshakes particularly hard to drink; and an online petition in the UK that called on the fast food giant to bring back plastic straws has received more than 50,000 signatures.

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