McDonald's Opts for Paper Straws That Can't Be Recycled

At least, not yet
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2019 11:05 AM CDT
McDonald's New Paper Straws Can't Actually Be Recycled
This April 24, 2017, photo shows the outside of a McDonald's restaurant in downtown Pittsburgh.   (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

McDonald's has ditched its plastic straws in favor of paper ones in the UK and Ireland—there's just one itty-bitty, teenie-weenie little problem: The paper straws can't be recycled. The fast-food company has called the new paper straws "eco-friendly," but, though the paper is technically recyclable, it's too thick to be easily processed at a recycling plant, the BBC reports. Ironically, the plastic straws McD's used to use were recyclable. The company first switched to a thinner paper straw last fall, but after customers complained that they dissolved too easily, making drinks and especially milkshakes difficult to consume, it started using a stronger version.

"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 spokesperson says. The company says that, for now, customers should put the paper straws into general garbage bins—"this waste from our restaurants does not go to landfill, but is used to generate energy," the company says—but adds that's just temporary and says a better solution is being worked on. A petition asking McDonald's to bring its plastic straws back has gotten more than 51,000 signatures so far, and the Sun reports that bundles of unopened plastic McDonald's straws can be found for sale on eBay. (Also a hot seller: plastic Trump straws.)

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