“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.”
Green justice warriors touted McDonald’s paper straws as a “sustainable” replacement for the plastic straws that they insisted kill the ocean.
It turns out that they aren’t actually recyclable.
McDonald’s restaurants in Europe serve paper straws to customers to avoid using plastic — but those paper straws, it turns out, are not yet able to be recycled.
The fast-food company announced last year plans to switch to paper straws in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2019 as part of McDonald’s “goal to source 100% of guest packaging from renewable, recycled, or certified sources by 2025 and to have guest packaging recycling in all restaurants globally.”
It turns out they cannot recycle the thicker versions required for shakes.
“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,” a McDonald’s spokesman told the UK’s Press Association news agency.
McDonald’s UK and Ireland has not yet responded to CNN’s requests for comment.
The issue was first revealed by The Sun newspaper, which published an internal McDonald’s (MCD) memo saying that the company’s paper straws “are not yet recyclable and should be disposed of in general waste until further notice.”
Meanwhile, in California where the plastic straw ban has been in effect, the market for paper straws is tight.
“The paper straw industry got overloaded, they couldn’t keep up with the demand and so what we did as a first step is we put the straws away and put them behind the counter,” [Woodstock’s Pizza owner Laura] Ambrose said. “We tell our guests that they need to ask for a straw and then they parcel those out one by one.”
Not only has she not been able to find a paper straw supplier who can keep up with the demand, but paper straws are also more expensive than plastic, she said.
Some California residents are offering possible recycling alternatives.
In San Francisco They Came For The Happy Meal Toys,
and we said nothing
Then they came for the straws, and we did nothing
Finally McDonald’s gets it… pic.twitter.com/WXQjZqstnd
— Lil Mike SF (@lilmikesf) August 5, 2019
Florida residents may want to take note of California’s struggles.
A fight over disposable straws could return to the state Legislature, even after Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this year vetoed a bill that would have blocked local governments from banning plastic straws.
A measure (SB 40) filed Friday by Sen. Kevin Rader, a Delray Beach Democrat, would take the opposite approach, by prohibiting the use of plastic straws and plastic “carryout” bags statewide. Rader’s plan would allow single-use straws made from nonplastic materials, such as “paper, pasta, sugarcane, wood, or bamboo.”
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