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The New McDonald’s Paper Straws Aren’t Actually Recyclable After All

The new paper straw — designed to withstand milkshake melting — needs to get in the bin

McDonald’s paper straws are not recyclable, like this McDonald’s cup floating in the sea photo by Andrew Aitchison / In pictures via Getty Images

The McDonald’s paper straw is too thicc to be recycled

McDonald’s U.K. tried, it really did. It phased out plastic straws, because in 2018 everyone wanted plastic straws incinerated — even though that would definitely not be good for the environment. Then its customers got pissed because the new paper straws were too flimsy for milkshakes and made a petition to get the plastic straws back. People sold packs of plastic straws on eBay. It was a wild time. Then it all seemed to calm down. The paper straw was in, despite its patent discrimination against disabled diners. The company made Paper Straw 2.0, a sturdier straw, one capable of slurping up London’s concrete-thick milkshakes if slinging them at fascists wasn’t the plan that day. Straws could be forgotten.

NOPE. The new, thicker paper straw isn’t actually recyclable. It can’t be recycled. It’s too thic(c)k for McDonald’s’ waste disposal companies to deal with it. It needs to get in the bin / diners need to put it in the bin. This isn’t necessarily a failure of corporate pandering to ultimately inconsequential environmental changes while oil companies ruin things in the background — McDonald’s says its waste is used to generate energy; these straws will degrade while a plastic straw will linger, mockingly for eternity. As Jenny Zhang writes for Eater.com, though, there’s something particularly maddening about the fact that “humans can formulate believable meatless meat” and get investors to bet literal millions of dollars on it, while “truly environmentally friendly mass-market packaging” still falls at the first hurdle. [The Sun, Eater]

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