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McDonald's Could Finally Be Ditching Plastic Straws For Good

Big environmentally conscious news for the golden arches.

McDonald's is already in the process of ditching plastic toys in Happy Meals in favor of more renewable materials. Now, the global leader in fast food sales is looking to take their sustainability efforts to the next level by doing away with plastic straws.

If you're preparing to enjoy your next Big Mac with no soda on the side, don't give up on quenching your thirst just yet. In lieu of wasteful plastic straws that inevitably end up in landfills or the ocean, Mickey D's is testing out new strawless lids that don't require any straw at all.

Instead of a traditional straw opening, the new lids feature a pullback tab that promotes easy sipping and no spillage. Before the tab is pulled, it keeps the entire top intact and closed for easy, dry transport. Upon pulling back the tab, a half-moon opening for sipping is revealed.

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"McDonald's is currently testing strawless lids for our cold beverages in select U.S. markets," a Mickey D's representative told Restaurant Business in a statement. "These lids help optimize our packaging and eliminate the use of small plastics, just one example of the many solutions we're reviewing as part of our ongoing global commitment to reduce waste across restaurants and advance recycling."

One market where the new lids are being tested is Minneapolis, Minnesota. Restaurant Business reports that some participating stores are now telling all customers they must specifically ask for a plastic straw if they want one. However, when RB put that to the test earlier this week in Minneapolis, they were given a straw right away without putting in a request.

The Golden Arches is the latest major food brand to turn over a greener leaf in recent years. Starbucks ditched plastic straws back in 2020 in favor of similarly recyclable, strawless lids. Meanwhile, in 2021 Burger King began rolling out plant-based straws and sustainable packaging.

mcdonalds drinks

Moreover, this is far from McDonald's first foray into sustainable practices. Mickey D's switched to paper straws in the United Kingdom back in 2018, but the move was met with criticism when it was revealed the new paper straws weren't recyclable after all.

The jury is still out on how these new strawless lids will fare with U.S. customers, but early reactions on social media suggest some may be less than pleased with McDonald's approach. One Twitter user wrote: "Brilliant! No more straws to save the earth from plastic use yet you changed from a paper cup to plastic…"

Many readers may be surprised to learn that traditional plastic straws actually are recyclable, but in most cases are either rejected or lost by recyclers. Even worse, it can take up to 200 years (!) for a plastic straw to decompose and break down in a natural environment, like a forest or body of water.

John Anderer
John Anderer is a writer who specializes in science, health, and lifestyle topics. Read more about John