McDonald's Japan Dispenses with Plastic Cutlery

McDonald's Japan will adopt paper straws and wooden utensils at all locations starting October 7, a move that the fast-food chain expects will eliminate 900 tonnes of plastic waste a year, Nikkei has learned.

The move was prompted by name-and-shame legislation introduced in Japan in April this year whereby authorities including the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) will release the names of businesses that annually use 5 tonnes or more of 12 disposable plastic items if their usage reduction efforts are judged "significantly inadequate," and issue them recommendations or orders. Businesses subject to the law are obliged to announce online and via other media their reduction target and the amount of specified plastic products they distributed in the previous fiscal year.

McDonald's Japan will cease offering plastic straws and forks as supplies run out at its roughly 2,900 locations nationwide. The company disposed of approximately 6,500 tonnes of plastic waste in Japan generated from dine ins at its restaurants in 2021 alone. The estimated reduction of 900 tonnes includes takeaway meals and beverages.

Under Japan’s newly enacted plastic recycling promotion law, companies in Japan are required to review their use of single-use plastic items, including plastic forks, spoons and hangers

Twelve items including plastic forks, spoons and clothes hangers will be designated "products using specified plastics." From April, businesses including supermarkets and other retail stores, restaurants, hotels and dry cleaners will have to set targets for reducing the products and review distribution of them. This also applies to takeaway businesses.