The sippy cup-style lids are part of a concerted effort to reduce the number of single-use plastics like straws in fast food restaurants.
Starbucks and other coffee shops have used the so-called “sippy cup lid” for years, primarily because straws and hot beverages don’t mix. But now, one fast food industry giant is rolling out the approach for cold drinks, too. And better yet, it seems Malaysia is ahead of the curve on this effort.
Recently, I was dropping a friend off at KLIA and decided to fuel up my car on the way back at the Petronas near the airport. I was also pretty hungry and as luck would have it, there was a McDonald’s at the station, so I popped in to get a burger and a drink.
It was actually the first time I had visited a McDonald’s in many months, and when I got my order, I looked in the bag and asked if there was a straw in there. Usually I don’t use straws, but in the car, they’re admittedly pretty handy. The counter attendant told me, “It’s a strawless lid,” with a smile. I looked at it and replied with delight and approval. This is great!
Single-use straws are an environmental catastrophe, many times getting thrown out without even being used at all, and though they make up a tiny percentage of plastic waste by volume, they’re easy to target because of their high-visibility wastefulness. They’re also not necessary for most people at most times; although some people actually do need straws, the truth is, most of us don’t.
I checked, and it turns out that McDonald’s corporation in the United States is trialling these new strawless lids in a number of cities as part of a multi-year effort to make its packaging more environmentally friendly… or at least not as much of an eco-disaster.
Here in Malaysia — and elsewhere regionally, too, such as Singapore and the Philippines — the strawless lids are already in widespread use.
According to reports, “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,” a McDonald’s spokesperson said in a statement.
The clever plastic strawless lids have a pullback tab to prevent the drink from splashing out. To drink from it, customers have to pull the tab back and slot it into a small indentation.
In actual use, the only drawback I found was the lack of a second ‘venting hole’ on the opposite side of the lid to equalise the air pressure in the cup as you drink from it. Without such a hole, if you drink even a little too excitedly, the cup will start to collapse inward. Hopefully, McDonald’s can rectify this on version 2.0 and add a second hole to allow air in the cup as the consumer drinks from it. (There may have been something there that I needed to punch open or something; I didn’t check too carefully.)
But all in all, kudos to the local McDonald’s operators for being at the forefront of this long-overdue positive step.
On the McDonald’s corporate website, the chain says, “We are aiming for 100% certified, recycled or renewable guest packaging materials by the end of 2025,” adding that “our ambition is to drastically reduce plastics” within that same time frame.
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