By Daniel J. McLaughlin
When McDonald's switched from plastic to paper straws, there were calls for the fast food giant to reverse their decision.
An online petition calling for the return of the plastic ones received over 50,000 signatures.
The controversy continues for McDonald's. While the paper straws were introduced to be more green, they are actually unrecyclable.
The company has been accused of "green washing".
Despite being unrecyclable, McDonald's paper straws are still better for the environment than plastic ones, Metro reports.
The fast food giant said that the paper straws are made from recyclable materials. However, they currently cannot be processed by recycling plants.
A spokesperson for McDonald's said that they are finding a solution, adding that putting the paper straws in general waste is "temporary".
They said: "Whilst the materials the [paper] straws are made from are recyclable, they cannot currently be processed by waste solution providers or local authorities unless collected separately.
"This is a wider industry issue, as the infrastructure needed to recycle has not kept pace with the emergence of paper straws.
"We are working with our waste management providers to find a sustainable solution, as we did with paper cups, and so the advice to put paper straws in general waste is therefore temporary."
Metro add that the paper straws can be composted. The paper straws break down in water - and if they end up in the ocean, the straws will dissolve in a matter of days.
However, the Independent's Sarah Arnold accuses the fast food chain of "yet another corporate green wash".
She says that we are aware that we are behaving destructively, and we want to change things. Enter companies that are green washing, which Arnold defines as "making misleading claims about the environmental benefits of a product or service".
She argues: "But what if these organisations looked at the actual problem, rather than their reputation, first and found more radical ways of reducing their carbon footprint.
"The fast food industry isn't going to introduce plates and cutlery any time soon, but companies such as McDonald's can make their takeaway packaging compostable.
"What would be really radical would be finding ways to compost that waste on site."
Arnold concludes: "We must force companies to halt green washing and bring in changes that use fewer of the planet’s dwindling resources – and do it as soon as is possible."
McDonald's switched from single-use plastic to paper straws in all of its 1,361 UK branches in September last year. The fast food chain uses 1.8 million straws a day in their UK branches.
According to BBC's Reality Check, nobody knows exactly how many straws are used in the UK each year. Figures vary from 4.7 billion to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' estimation of 8.5 billion.
If the latter is true, it is the equivalent of about 130 straws for everybody in the UK every year.
Despite the vast amounts of straws in circulation, they make up just 0.025 per cent of total plastic waste in the ocean.