McDonald's New Test Lids Are All About Sustainability

Single-use plastics are not only enormously wasteful, but they're also quite damaging to the environment. As National Geographic observes, there are now over 5 trillion bits of plastic polluting the world's oceans. According to The Guardian, the most commonly found ocean pollutants are plastic bags and bottles, and plastics from food packaging. The fast food industry – built on disposable cups, straws, boxes, lids, wrappers, and the like – is certainly a contributor to this prodigious waste.

As a result, some countries have moved in recent years to institute bans on single-use plastics in fast food eateries. In the U.K., for example, plastic straws and coffee stirrers were outlawed in 2020, notes the BBC. Earlier this year, a French law banning single-use plastics altogether in the nation's restaurants took effect, The Guardian reported. There is no such sweeping legislation in the U.S., although California, notably, passed a law in 2022 stipulating that all single-use packaging must be recyclable within 10 years, with significant thresholds for the amount actually recycled, per The New York Times.

A few fast food brands, it should be noted, have made efforts to combat the issue. McDonald's, for example, has collaborated with Starbucks in the past to develop recyclable cups, affirmed Restaurant Business Online. The fast food giant has also recently announced testing for new strawless lids, which it hopes will reduce plastic waste.

Where to find McDonald's new strawless lids

McDonald's has announced that it is currently trying out new strawless lids in some U.S. markets, although only Minneapolis has been confirmed at this point, reports Restaurant Business Online. The new lid is being touted as a waste-reducing sustainability measure, and according to CNN Business, resembles the lid style first introduced by Starbucks in 2020. The coffee giant has previously estimated its lids would lead to 1 billion fewer straws each year. Functionally, the new McDonald's lids are distinguished by a tab that must be pulled open before consumers are able to sip from their cold beverages.

"These lids help optimize our packaging and eliminate the use of small plastics, just one example of the many solutions we're reviewing as part of our ongoing global commitment to reduce waste across restaurants and advance recycling," a spokesperson for the fast food chain explained in a statement. McDonald's has previously made moves to go strawless at 1,000 locations in China, and its corporate website claimed that the efforts would cut as much as 400 metric tons of plastic waste. There is no clear evidence at present, however, that McDonald's intends to completely eliminate plastic straws and other single-use sources of plastic waste. Restaurant Business News notes that even in areas where the new strawless lids are available, customers can still request straws.