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Last straw for plastic as McDonald’s switches to paper straws in UK, Ireland

The fast-food giant joins a list of nightclubs and restaurant venues which have pledged to dump plastic straws for bio-degradable alternatives.

FILE: Picture: AFP.

LONDON - McDonald’s will replace plastic straws with paper ones in all its restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland, starting from September, the BBC reported on Friday.

“Reflecting the broader public debate, our customers told us they wanted to see a move on straws,” McDonald’s was quoted as saying by the BBC.

In April, the British government proposed a ban on plastic straws and cotton buds in England.

The move comes after estimates that 8.5 billion straws are used in Britain every year – or more than 23 million a day – which is contributing to the death of marine animals, according to the Marine Conservation Society.

The fast-food giant joins a list of nightclubs and restaurant venues - including Pizza Express, pub chain Wetherspoons, and supermarket Waitrose - which have pledged to dump plastic straws for bio-degradable alternatives.

The widening ban on plastic straws comes as United Nations figures show eight million tonnes of plastic - bottles, packaging and other waste - enter the ocean each year, killing marine life and entering the human food chain.

Scientists have urged tougher restrictions on plastic waste. In December, almost 200 nations agreed to limit plastic pollution of the oceans, warning it could outweigh fish by 2030.

The Marine Conservation Society said about 70% of litter on beaches was made of plastic with items such as straws, cups and stirrers making up over 20% of the litter.