McDonald's in Canada Starts using Wooden Cutlery, Paper Straws
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McDonald's in Canada Starts using Wooden Cutlery, Paper Straws

May 31, 2023

McDonald’s is beginning to use wooden utensils, stir sticks and paper straws in more than 1,400 of its restaurants in Canada.

The wooden utensils and stir sticks are being implemented in the restaurants this month and the company expects the last plastic straw to be used in Canada by December. This will remove single-use plastics and is part of McDonald’s plan to source all its primary customer packaging with renewable or recycled sources.

Getting rid of single-use plastics has been a priority in the restaurant business, but plastics are a big businesses, especially in the food industry.

Globally, plastic cutlery is a $2.6 billion industry, and North America accounts for 21% of single-plastic use in the world, according to the UN. Additionally, the restaurant business generates about 78% of all plastic packaging, according to food business publication Spoon.

There is also legislation in the works, which could further encourage businesses to make the move from single-use plastics. In the US, the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act was reintroduced in Congress in March 2020. It requires producers of packaging, containers, and food-service products to design, manage, and finance waste and recycling programs as well as ban some single-use products that aren’t recyclable, among other items.

McDonald’s and the fast food industry are taking notice and are making efforts to reduce use of the materials.

A McDonald’s franchisee in Latin America said earlier this year it would substitute plastic trays with ones with more sustainable materials. McDonald’s also has partnered with circular packaging company Loop to test reusable cups for hot drinks. Burger King also has been testing reusable sandwich and beverage containers.

McDonald’s aims to be using 100% recycled, renewable or reusable materials in all its customer packaging in all of its restaurants by 2025.

McDonald’s says by removing the plastic products in Canada it will remove 840 tons of plastic waste in the country each year. In 2019 McDonald’s introduced a 20% smaller napkin in Canada, which it says eliminated more than 900 tons of paper waste.