McDonald's will stop using plastic straws in its British and Irish restaurants, instead opting for paper alternatives, the global fast food chain said on Friday.
By 2019 there should be no more plastic straws in these branches, with restaurants in the US, France, Sweden, Norway and Australia all expected to begin trialling alternatives for plastic straws by the end of the year.
"McDonald's is committed to using our scale for good and working to find sustainable solutions for plastic straws globally," said chief supply chain and sustainability officer, Francesca DeBiase.
"We hope this work will support industry-wide change and bring sustainable solutions to scale," said DeBiase.
The announcement comes after almost 500,000 people signed an online petition calling for McDonald's to stop offering plastic straws, citing the effect plastic pollution has on the world's oceans and marine life.
The rising levels of plastic waste in the world's oceans have become a hot topic in recent weeks, with the EU and the British government among those to propose bans on certain single-use products such as cotton buds and plastic straws.
McDonald's says it aims to have all packaging used by its customers worldwide to be made from "renewable, recycled, or certified sources" by 2025.
Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace U.K., said: "McDonald's phasing out plastic straws in the U.K. is a small step ahead of an anticipated government ban, but the scale of the fast food giant means this move will have impact."
Only a global ban by the chain, however "will get McDonald's plastic waste off our beaches and out of our oceans," she said.
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