McDonald’s UK confirms paper straw rollout following successful trials and positive customer feedback

June 15, 2018

McDonald’s UK confirms paper straw rollout following successful trials and positive customer feedback

  • Phased rollout of paper straws to all 1,361 McDonald’s restaurants in the UK and Ireland will begin from September this year, with completion set for 2019
  • All restaurants have already taken steps to move plastic straws behind the counter, with new recycling facilities available at all Experience of the Future restaurants
  • McDonald’s UK&I confirms suppliers for paper straws: Transcend Packaging, based in Wales, and Huhtamaki, a long-standing supplier in Northern Ireland.

McDonald’s UK and Ireland will begin the process of transferring to paper straws in its restaurants from September. Customers in trial restaurants have reacted positively to the change, with the majority supporting a move to paper straws as part of wider efforts to protect the environment.  At the start of the trials, the business also took the decision to move plastic straws behind the counter in all its restaurants to reduce plastic waste and put the decision for use in the hands of the customer.

Paul Pomroy, CEO of McDonald’s UK and Ireland, said:  “Reflecting the broader public debate, our customers told us they wanted to see a move on straws but to do so without compromising their overall experience when visiting our restaurants.  Over the past few months we’ve been working closely with supplier partners to find a solution that works both for our customers, and that the supply is there given the size of our business.

The Government’s ambitious plans, combined with strong customer opinion, has helped to accelerate the move away from plastic and I’m proud that we’ve been able to play our part in helping to achieve this societal change.”

Environment Secretary, Michael Gove said: “Congratulations to McDonald’s on making this significant contribution to help our natural environment. We all have a responsibility to our environment and this simple yet effective initiative is a fine example to other large businesses. McDonald’s has made a significant investment in UK manufacturing to produce an alternative to plastic, showing British businesses are taking a global lead. 

“We want more companies to say no to unnecessary single use plastics. Through our 25 Year Environment Plan we have committed to eliminating avoidable plastic and we will continue to take decisive action to protect our precious environment.”

Paper straw boost for UK suppliers  

McDonald’s supply of paper straws in the UK will be met by two suppliers:

  • Transcend Packaging: Wales-based start-up focused on sustainable packaging;
  • Huhtamaki Foodservice EAO: is a global fibre-based packaging partner, which has worked with McDonald’s for over 30 years, supplying products from 20 of its 80 sites. Huhtamaki will produce the paper straws at its plant in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Paper used by both suppliers will come from certified sources, endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).

This move in the UK supports McDonald’s goal to source 100% of guest packaging from renewable, recycled, or certified sources by 2025 and to have guest packaging recycling in all restaurants globally.

“McDonald’s is committed to using our scale for good and working to find sustainable solutions for plastic straws globally,” said Francesca DeBiase Executive Vice President, Global Supply Chain and Sustainability. “In addition to the exciting news from the U.K. today, we are testing straw alternatives in other countries to provide the best experience for our customers. We hope this work will support industry wide change and bring sustainable solutions to scale.”

In addition to tests that began earlier this year in the U.K., we have also begun testing alternatives to plastic straws in Belgium.  Later this year, we will begin testing alternatives in select restaurants in the U.S., France, Sweden and Norway. In addition to testing alternative materials, in several markets including Malaysia, we will begin tests to offer straws upon request only. We are eager to learn from these tests around the world to develop solutions that are scalable across the globe.


McDonald’s has continued to invest in recycling facilities in all restaurants as part of its Experience of the Future transformation programme. The multi-million-pound investment made by McDonald’s, together with its franchisees, has upgraded kitchens and placed new technology such as self-order screens at the heart of the restaurant experience, enabling innovations like table service, click-and-collect ordering and McDelivery – currently available in over 450 restaurants. Over 1,000 restaurants have been transformed so far, with the entire estate set to be completed by the end of this year.

The current plastic straws are made from 100% recyclable material.

In April, the Government announced it would ban the sale of plastic straws following a consultation later this year, and committed to working with industry to develop alternatives.

Contact: McDonald’s Press Office: / 0203 892 1000

About sustainability at McDonald’s UK

-       Greenhouse gas emissions: In March 2018 McDonald’s committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions from its restaurants and offices around the world by 36% by 2030, using 2015 as a base year. It has also committed to a 31% reduction in emission intensity across its supply chain over the same period. These targets have been approved by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi), a partnership between CDP, UN Global Compact, WRI and WWF.

-       Biodiesel: This year, the UK business celebrates a decade of powering its delivery fleet with recycled biodiesel from cooking oil, a move that saves nearly seven thousand tonnes of CO2 emissions every year compared to traditional fleets.  Delivery lorries are 100% powered by biodiesel – 40% of which is taken from cooking oil sourced from McDonald’s UK restaurants. This all contributes to making the brand’s distribution fleet one of the most environmentally friendly in the UK.

-       Beef Carbon Study: McDonald’s UK commissioned one of the largest ever beef carbon studies. Working with 200 beef farms across Britain and Ireland over six years.  By sharing knowledge on simple measures which can improve business efficiency and reduce environmental impact, farmers who had a carbon footprint each year demonstrated they could make average emissions reductions of 23% over the course of the study.

-       Smart energy: new restaurants are built with energy efficiency in mind, using smart technology to control lighting, heating, air conditioning as well as energy efficient kitchen technology.

-       Renewables: all franchised and company-owned restaurants[1] in the UK are run on 100% renewable electricity from a combination of wind and solar power, with 60% of modular new build restaurants now equipped with their own solar panels.

-       Coffee cup recycling: McDonald’s UK has worked with suppliers James Cropper and Veolia to develop a process to ensure that coffee cups can be recycled. Recycling units in restaurants are also designed to make it as easy as possible for customers to separate and recycle waste.

-       Packaging recycling: 21k tonnes of outer packaging cardboard is recycled from restaurants every year and in April 2017 achieved the milestone of being zero waste to landfill.[1]

-       Biofuel: McDonald's UK converts 4,500 tonnes of food waste (including egg shells and coffee grounds) per year into renewable energy through anaerobic digestion.

-       Litter patrols: McDonald’s UK crew carry out daily litter patrols around restaurants, with employees walking around 150,000 miles per year to keep the streets clean.