McDonald's is preparing to test plastic straw alternatives in the United States later this year, the fast-food giant announced on Friday.
USA Today reports that the chain will test the alternatives at select locations in the country, amid growing pressure to make their not-so-eco-friendly packaging more sustainable.
Every day, McDonald's is estimated to dispense millions of plastic straws, many of which are discarded and do not easily biodegrade.
"McDonald's is committed to using our scale for good and working to find sustainable solutions for plastic straws globally," Francesca DeBiase, the company's executive vice president for global supply chain and sustainability, said in a statement. "We hope this work will support industry-wide change."
In addition to the U.S. testing, McDonald's will implement paper straws in all 1,361 of its restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland, with the rollout scheduled to begin in September and conclude by 2019.
"Additionally, customers have told us that they want to have to ask for a straw, so we're acting on that and moving them behind the counter," said Paul Pomroy, CEO of McDonald's U.K. "Together with our customers, we can do our bit for the environment and use fewer straws."
The fast-food industry has long 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.
USA Today reported that the United States produced 258 million tons of municipal solid waste in 2014 versus 88 million tons in 1960, according to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Almost one-fourth of that was containers and packaging.
"We continue to work to find a more sustainable solution for plastic straws globally," McDonald's said in a statement in May. "In the meantime, we have adopted compostable straws in certain markets to meet regulations while we work with packaging experts to develop a planet-friendly, cost-effective answer for all McDonald's restaurants."
McDonald's has also set a goal of making all of its customer packaging come from renewable, recycled, or certified sources by 2025, with an additional aim of having recycling available in all restaurants.
"Our customers have told us that packaging waste is the top environmental issue they would like us to address," Francesca Debiase, McDonald's chief supply chain and sustainability officer said in a statement in January.
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