McDonald's to start phasing out plastic straws from its UK restaurants
Fast food giant McDonald's is to start phasing out plastic straws from its UK restaurants and says it is "really close" to the point where all its packaging can be recycled.
The company, which has around 1,300 restaurants around the country, will start a trial in May to use paper straws instead of the normal plastic ones.
It will also try out a scheme where straws are kept behind the counter, and only given out to customers on request.
McDonald's has around 3.7 million customers every day, with 90% of the UK population visiting one of its restaurants in the average year.
The announcement was made by McDonald's chief executive Paul Pomroy in an exclusive interview for Sky News.
He said: "Customers have told us that they don't want to be given a straw and that they want to have to ask for one, so we're acting on that.
"Straws are one of those things that people feel passionately about, and rightly so, and we're moving those straws behind the front counter.
"If you come into McDonald's going forward, you'll be asked if you want a straw.
"The other thing we're looking to do is to move to recycled paper on the straws and biodegradable paper straws and that test, I'm really proud to say, will start next month."
The plastic straws presently used in McDonald's restaurants are recyclable but the company has reacted to growing public discontent about their use.
The UK is reckoned to use around 8.5 billion single-use plastic straws each year
High street retailer Iceland has stopped selling them, while Environment Secretary Michael Gove said last month that he wished to ban them while chains including Pizza Express and JD Wetherspoon have plans to phase them out.
Mr Pomroy said: "The reduction in the use of plastics is a hugely important issue for business, for the sector, and for society.
"We've been on a journey over the past 10 years with recycling, from taking out foam and polystyrene to where we are now - with Big Mac 'clam' boxes that are made with a recycled board.
"The only thing left for us to move forward on is the lids that go on to our cups. Those are complicated, but we're working with our suppliers to find a solution to that.
"We're really close, so we hope within the next year to be able to have a lid that's recyclable and serves the same purpose - for hot and cold drinks."
Since Mr Pomroy took over as UK chief executive of McDonald's, the company has reduced the amount of sugar and salt in many of its products and also introduced a range of premium products, as well as new restaurant designs.
He warned last week that the UK's retailers were facing "a perfect storm" of inflation, rising interest rates, and falling investment.