McDonald’s shareholders have rejected a proposal to phase out plastic straws, in a setback for activists campaigning for the company to ban them.
Less than 8 per cent of shareholders backed the idea for the firm to report on its use of plastic straws.
The board of the global fast-food chain, which has 37,000 outlets worldwide, recommended voting against the proposal, saying it was “unnecessary” and “redundant”.
The company said they were already working on reducing plastic waste.
The proposal, which was voted on at the company’s annual meeting, was put forward by a small shareholder and backed by the activist group SumOfUs.
Published in an SEC filing last month, the proposal said McDonald’s “has an opportunity to improve its brand by demonstrating leadership in the elimination of plastic straws” and argued the continued use of plastic straws “could put our company at a competitive disadvantage”.
The group have been pushing McDonald’s to stop using plastic straws due to the impact on the environment and wildlife.
An online petition asking McDonald’s to “stop using plastic straws that pollute our oceans” has gained nearly 500,000 signatures.
Yesterday Greenpeace USA tweeted saying the vote was absurd.
The news comes amid increasing concern about the effects of plastic pollution as just 9 per cent of plastic globally was recycled.
McDonald’s told shareholders that it already had a goal that by 2025 “all of McDonald’s guest packaging [including straws] will come from renewable, recycled or certified sources”.
“The requested report is unnecessary, redundant to our current practices and initiatives, and has the potential for a diversion of resources with no corresponding benefit to the company, our customers and our shareholders,” the board said.
In March, McDonald’s said they would start to reduce the use of plastic straws in some of its 1,200 UK outlets.
The chain is trialing paper straws, available to customers on request. The company said their straws were already 100 per cent recyclable, but “we know that more can be done”.
“That’s why we will be piloting paper straws in some restaurants from May,” Paul Pomroy, McDonald’s UK CEO, said. “Additionally, customers have told us that they want to have to ask for a straw, so we’re acting on that and moving them behind the counter. Together with our customers we can do our bit for the environment and use fewer straws.”