McDonald’s unrecyclable recycling initiative

McDonald’s unrecyclable recycling initiative


An unexpected news story appeared today in the UK’s Mirror surprising everyone, especially owners and operators of F&B outlets. McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant chain by revenue, serving over 69 million customers daily in over 100 countries across 37,855 outlets as of 2018 announced that its decision to replace plastic straws with paper ones has run into a major obstacle. According to the story, ‘McDonald’s new ‘eco-friendly’ paper straws cannot be recycled and must be binned and burned instead. The plastic straws were withdrawn from all UK branches as part of a green drive, even though the fast-food giant has said they were “100 percent recyclable”.

An internal memo by the company highlighted the fact that ‘the paper versions, hated by customers, must be binned and burned. What is worse, is that rumors circulating point to the fact that the old plastic straws previously used, as opposed to the paper ones, can actually be recycled and therefore make for a more eco-friendly option. The problem, experts believe, relates to the thickness of the new paper straws, which makes it harder for the fast-food chain’s waste solution providers to process. Furthermore, based on some customers’ accounts, the new paper straws ‘make milkshakes hard to drink and dissolve in cola’.

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Despite the fact that McDonald’s pulled its plastic straws in September and vowed to use paper ones in all its 1,361 branches across the UK and Ireland, the internal memo acknowledges that, “Paper straws are not yet recyclable and should be disposed of in general waste until further notice.”

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