McDonald’s Admits to Not Recycling Paper Straws

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. dissolve / dɪˈzɒlv / (v) – to break apart after getting soaked in liquid, like water

    The toilet paper immediately dissolved after it fell into a bucket of water.

  2. soggy / ˈsɒg i / (adj) – completely soaked

    I left the cereals in my bowl of milk for too long, so they got really soggy.

  3. come up with (something) / kʌm ʌp wɪθ / (phrasal) – to be able to produce or think of something

    The company came up with an idea on how to turn its waste into energy.

  4. petition / pəˈtɪʃ ən / (n) – a formal written request signed by several people who are supporting it

    An organization of teachers asked the community to sign a petition requesting the government to build more classrooms.

  5. behind (something) / bɪˈhaɪnd / (idiom) – to be responsible for something

    He is behind the successful environmental project.


Read the text below.

McDonald’s has recently admitted to having difficulty recycling its paper straws.

In 2018, the fast-food giant started to roll out paper straws in its UK and Ireland outlets after the public called on the company to get rid of plastic straws. Initially, the restaurant used recyclable plastic straws. Then, it switched to thin paper straws but later received complaints that the straws were unpleasant to use. According to customers, the straws dissolved and became soggy before they could finish their drinks. Criticisms led McDonald’s to use thicker and stronger paper straws, which the company later found to be difficult to process in recycling machines.

According to a UK newspaper, an internal memo instructed McDonald’s employees to dispose of the thick paper straws in general waste bins instead of in recycling bins. In the company’s defense, a McDonald’s spokesperson said that this mode of disposal is only meant to be temporary. He even said that waste from McDonald’s outlets is used to generate energy instead of being sent to landfills.

To solve its problem with recycling the straws, McDonald’s is currently working with its waste management partners to come up with a solution.

McDonald’s statement about its inability to recycle its paper straws came months after someone started an online petition urging the company to return to plastic straws. The man behind the campaign said in his petition that he wants plastic straws back so he can enjoy drinking McDonald’s milkshakes without the straw getting soggy. The petition, which was posted on, has now garnered more than 51,000 signatures.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• How do you think McDonald’s statement about not recycling paper straws can affect the company’s image? Explain.
• Do you agree with the petition that McDonald’s should switch back to plastic straws from paper straws? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• How can businesses encourage people to live eco-friendly lifestyles (e.g. avoiding plastic straws, not using plastic bags)? Discuss.
• Do you think eco-friendly lifestyles really have a huge impact on the environment? Explain.