McDonald's to ban plastic straws at all UK and Ireland outlets

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 15 June 2018

McDonald’s is set to ban plastic straws from all of its restaurants in the UK and Ireland from September.


Every plastic straw that has ever been produced still exists in some form today, as these plastics do not simply disappear

Laura Parry,
MCS Pollution Team

The burger chain says it’s testing alternatives to plastic straws in some of its European restaurants as well as in the US, and is only handing out plastic straws on request in stores in Latin America.

McDonald’s hands out 1.8m straws a day in the UK. It joins other high street heavyweights including All Bar One, Wetherspoons, Pizza Express, Wagamama, Costa and Pret a Manger who have either ditched plastic straws already, or have committed to doing so during 2018.

Lords Cricket Ground has removed straws from all of its outlets, taking advice from the Marine Conservation Society to combat single-use plastic production. The All England Lawn Tennis Club has also banned plastic straws at this years Wimbledon Championships – in 2017 over 400,000 were used during the iconic grass court fortnight.

“This is a big step in the right direction in the fight against plastic pollution in our oceans,” says Laura Parry from the MCS Pollution Team. “It could mean that around 657 million fewer straws will end up in the marine environment each year. Every plastic straw that has ever been produced still exists in some form today, as these plastics do not simply disappear, so it is really important to break the cycle and stop using plastic for items that are intended to be discarded after one use.

“Chains like McDonalds have the platform to make these huge changes and encourage others to follow suit, this decision to use paper straws instead of plastic is exactly what all restaurant chains that still haven’t made the switch should now be considering.”

30,000 MCS supporters took action to ask the UK Government, pubs, restaurants and fast food chains to ditch single-use plastic items as part of our #STOPthePlasticTide camapaign, and over a 100,000 people responded to the Government’s plastic tax consultation in just two weeks earlier this year.

In May the European Commission announced single-use items such as straws and cutlery could be banned across Europe to tackle plastic pollution at continental level. For each plastic item flagged as problematic, the European Commission has proposed a series of policy measures that include bans, reduction efforts, labelling and Extended Producer Responsibility schemes (making plastic items more expensive to reflect the environmental damage they cause).

Actions you can take

  1. Download straw graphic for cafe/bar counter
  2. Join a beach clean
  3. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2019
  4. Share #stopsucking
  5. Refuse straws at your local restaurant/bar
  6. Download our straw poster

Did you know?…

On UK beaches levels of litter have doubled in the past 20 years

Over time, one plastic bottle bobbing along in the ocean can break down in to hundreds of tiny plastic pieces

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is thought to be 6 times the size of the UK