In what it said is a North America first for the fast-food industry, A&W Canada announced it is eliminating all plastic straws from its restaurants by the end of this year.
“Reducing waste from landfills is a top priority for A&W and this is one big way that we can make a difference,” said Susan Senecal, A&W Canada’s President and CEO. “We are proud to make this change, which has been driven by the wishes of our guests, franchisees, and staff.”
The company said that once the ban is in effect, guests will be provided with the option of a paper straw.
“The paper straws are 100% biodegradable, compostable and are sustainably sourced,” the company said in a statement. “They last two-to-three hours in a drink without breaking down but are naturally biodegrade in three to six months.”
A&W said the switch to the new straws will keep 82 million plastic straws out of landfills every year.
“Introducing packaging innovations that reduce waste is key to A&W’s environmental strategy,” said Tyler Pronyk, A&W Canada’s Director of Distribution, Equipment & Packaging.
He pointed to other measures the restaurant has undertaken, including the use of “real” mugs, plates and cutlery.
“Eliminating plastic straws is another big step for us. As we learn more about new tools and sustainable practices, we look forward to more improvements ahead,” he added.
The move comes on the heels of a decision by the city of Vancouver to implement a ban on plastic straws and polystyrene foam cups and take-out containers.
The ban on the distribution of these materials within city limits goes into effect on June 1, 2019, which is six months earlier than initially proposed.
The city claims it is the first jurisdiction in Canada to ban plastic straws and polystrene foam cups and take-out containers and the “first city in the world to approve a comprehensive zero waste strategic plan.”