June 15 (UPI) -- McDonald's on Friday announced its restaurants in Britain and Ireland are moving from plastic to paper straws -- and some locations in the United States, France, Sweden, Norway and Australia will follow suit later this year.
The initial rollout of paper straws at more than 1,300 restaurants will start in September and complete next year, the company said in a statement.
"McDonald's is committed to using our scale for good and working to find sustainable solutions for plastic straws globally," said McDonald's Executive Vice President Francesca DeBiase.
DeBiase said the company is testing straw alternatives in Belgium and McDonald's will begin testing alternatives in other countries later this year. In several markets, including Malaysia, the chain will test offering straws by request only.
"We are eager to learn from these tests around the world to develop solutions that are scalable across the globe," the company said.
Last month, McDonald's shareholders voted against the idea of phasing out plastic straws. The stockholders could have sanctioned an investigation into potential alternatives and their fiscal consequences.
SumofUs, an activist group focused on corporate reform, has called for the company to ban plastic straws through a petition that has more than 480,000 signatures.
Last month, the European Commission proposed a ban on straws and plastic cutlery in its member nations. Plastics account for 80 percent of all marine litter, 70 percent of which is from products like plastic cotton swabs, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and balloon sticks.
In addition to requiring listed products to be made with sustainable materials, the proposed rules would also set targets for reduced consumption. Plastics producers would also be required to help finance waste management and clean-up efforts.