McDonald’s Recycles Plastic Straws into Trays in Canada

July 18, 2022

For McDonald’s Canada, plastic straws are out. Paper straws are in.

As part of a larger effort to reduce plastics and packaging, McDonald’s restaurants in Canada stopped using plastic straws entirely in late 2021. By replacing them with paper straws, McDonald’s will eliminate approximately 300 tonnes of plastic from the Canadian system every year.

 In late 2021, McDonald’s Canada removed certain single-use plastics* in its   restaurants across the country, namely plastic cutlery*, stir sticks and straws. This   change will remove over approximately 700 tonnes of plastics from the Canadian   system annually, approximately over 300 tonnes of which are attributed to plastic   straws.

Pretty wild, right? And when you factor in McDonald’s Canada’s decision to remove other single-use plastics from their restaurants, such as plastic cutlery and stir sticks, it adds up to approximately 700 tonnes of plastic being removed from the Canadian system every year.

But when McDonald’s Canada switched to paper straws, they still had some plastic straws left over. 

"We certainly didn’t want these plastic straws to be sent to landfill,” says Gemma Pryor, Senior Director – Canada Impact Team, McDonald’s Canada. "So we had to find an out-of-the-box way to give some of these plastic straws a ‘second act’ that was renewable, and uniquely Canadian.” 

Recycling Plastic Straws into Trays

The team took some cues from McDonald’s Brazil, which uses recycled materials to make trays, and McDonald’s Japan, which recycles Happy Meal toys into trays, and worked with Canadian company The Rogerie to recycle the plastic straws into trays. From there, McDonald’s Canada commissioned 15 Canadian and Indigenous artists who used the upcycled trays as canvases to display their unique artwork representing the artists’ diverse perspectives on sustainability and the environment.  

You can learn more about the artists, the inspiration to their specially designed artwork, and the making of the Last Straw trays here.

The individually designed, limited edition trays were donated to local Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®) Houses across Canada. Houses may keep the tray on display for the families to enjoy, or they may choose to auction off the trays for fundraising purposes. 

McDonald’s Canada Supports Global Sustainability Goals

Globally, McDonald’s has a goal of sourcing 100% of its primary guest packaging (cups, bags, drink carriers, napkins, containers, wraps and Happy Meal® boxes) from recycled, renewable or certified sources by the end of 2025. McDonald’s Canada is proud to help on this journey. 

“Removing single-use plastic straws from restaurants is just one of the initiatives McDonald’s Canada has undertaken,” says Gemma Pryor. “From reducing napkin size by 20% in 2019, to trialing an electric vehicle as part of the supply chain distribution fleet earlier this year, we’re continuing to explore opportunities to make important changes in the Canadian system.”

Our Latest Stories