McDonald's announced Friday that it would start testing an alternative to plastic straws in some of its US restaurants, and would completely phase out the products in some of its European locations.
Plastic straws can be seen at a McDonald's restaurant, after it was revealed that they are to replace their plastic straws with paper ones in United Kingdom and Ireland restaurants, in London, Britain, June 15, 2018.
The move comes amid increasing pressure on companies to reduce the amount of single-use plastic they use, because of concerns over plastic pollution in the, oceans where items such as straws end up harming, and often killing, wildlife like turtles, birds and fish.
Last week, Ikea announced it aims to phase out all single-use plastic products from its stores and restaurants by 2020.
The fast-food industry has always been an issue when it comes to the environment, with waste like foam cups, plastic wrap, boxes and more contributing to trash buildup around the world.
Straws are usually made from type 5 plastic, or polypropylene, which can take up to 200 years to degrade and "will never be fully off the Earth", says the blog Get Green Now. The switch to paper straws will be completed next year.
And Tetra Pak - the food packaging company - has said plastic straws serve a "vital" function in cartons and should not be banned.
McDonald's said its decision followed a successful trial in selected restaurants earlier this year.
"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 for global supply chain and sustainability, said in a news release. Similar testing has started in Belgium and will soon start in the US, France, Sweden, Norway and Australia.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the initiative was "simple but effective" and is a "fine example to other large businesses".