Fast food giant McDonald’s Austria is using a mixture of its old plastic straws and ocean plastic waste to produce swimwear.
As part of its sustainability strategy, McDonald’s Austria recently switched from using plastic straws to paper ones. Consequently, it faced a dilemma as to what to do with these old plastic straws.
So, the chain has decided to unveil a swimwear range by working with Austrian label Poleit on the limited-edition collection.
The one-piece women’s suit and men’s swim shorts are made from upcycled fabric that’s a mix of recycled McDonald’s (@McDonald’s) plastic straws and post-consumer plastic waste reclaimed from the ocean.
“We are pleased that this Austria-made, Europe-made and globally unique sustainability collection made from recycled material in our classic straw design accompanies us into a unique summer,” said Benedikt Böcker, marketing director at McDonald’s Austria.
To help reduce waste even further, the new paper straws will only be issued at the restaurants on request. Like the beverage cups, the paper straws can also be disposed of in the restaurants or at home with the regular wastepaper, helping to contribute to a sustainable circular economy.
In 2018, the company announced a switch to paper straws in Ireland and the UK, but an online petition was started by a member of the public called Martin Reed to get them to switch back to plastic straws “so I can drink my milkshake proper”. The paper straws also appeared to be less recyclable than the old plastic straws. A spokesperson for the company explained to CNBC at the time that the straws “cannot currently be processed by waste solution providers or local authorities unless collected separately.”
McDonald’s plans to promote paper straws in the UK came after the government committed to eliminating avoidable plastic via its ’25-year Environment Plan’. In 2018, Paul Pomroy, CEO of McDonald’s UK and Ireland, said: “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.”
The EU has made plans to crack down on single-use plastics via its single-use plastics Directive.
By 3 July 2021, member states will have to ensure that single-use cutlery, plates, stirring sticks, balloon holders, straws and cotton buds, as well as polystyrene cups and boxes, will no longer be in circulation. From 2029 there is a 90% collection target for plastic bottles and such bottles will have to contain at least 25% recycled content by 2025.
Yet, only a few countries are on track to transpose the EU’s single-use plastics Directive into their national laws, but they need to act quickly to do so, an assessment from anti-plastic movement #BreakFreeFromPlastic has found.