McDonald’s plastic straw ban should be moved forward

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The aim of my petition is to move forward the plastic straw ban that McDonald’s have been considering. As it stands, McDonald’s in the UK and Ireland have announced that they will be replacing their plastic straws with paper ones in September this year. However, I believe that this is too far away as during the nine month period between now and September, a huge amount of harm will be done.

According to BBC News, 1.8 million straws are used at McDonald’s every day in the UK. There are 212 days between the beginning of February 2019 and the beginning of September 2019. With this information, I have calculated that nearly 382 million plastic straws will be used at McDonald’s in the UK during this time period. It only takes one plastic straw to harm or kill a marine animal. 

According to conserveturtles.org, there are around 100 million tonnes of plastic in oceans around the world and this is responsible for killing around 1 million marine animals each year - and harming many more. This year, it’s estimated that plastic buildup with span 5 million square miles, which equates to the size of the entire United States of America plus India. As you can imagine, this will be hugely detrimental to the nature and wildlife in and around this space. 

I believe that McDonald’s is an ideal place to start in the journey to eradicating plastic use in the fast food industry. In 2013, McDonald’s generated over £1.8 billion and was labelled the leading chain restaurant (going by sales revenue). It is still, in 2019, one of the most popular fast food chain restaurants. This goes to show that it can afford to replace plastic straws with ones that are paper or biodegradable. 

By McDonald’s converting to this environmentally-friendly alternative as soon as possible, it will set an example for other similar businesses such as Burger King and Subway and will hopefully apply pressure to them to do the same thing and more. It will also raise awareness of plastic pollution - McDonald’s sees millions of customers and so will make them all aware of the problem we are currently facing as a nation. According to edie.net, Burger King has pledged to make all of its packaging recyclable by 2025. However, that is six years away. The problem needs tackling now before it becomes out of control and too difficult to deal with. 

At the moment, many people seem to choose an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mindset and ignore this rapidly growing problem. The reality is, plastic pollution could already be having an impact on the health and well-being of humans. According to nationalgeographic.com, scientists found micro plastics in 114 aquatic species - around half of these are consumed by humans. Although it isn’t yet known what effect this has on humans, research shows that they have a massive impact on marine animals; blocking digestive tracts and changing feeding behaviour, which have knock-on effects for the growth of the marine animals and their ability to reproduce. This suggests that microplastics could also have an impact on humans, particularly after eating ‘contaminated’ seafood long-term.

Some people may think that banning plastic straws is an insignificant contribution to reducing plastic pollution. The truth is, we need to change our ways in order to save the oceans and all of its inhabitants. This is a problem that we can only tackle together and this is just the start.