McDonald's shareholders on Thursday rejected a proposal to ban the use of plastic straws at its outlets.

Rejected Proposal To Ban Plastic Straw

The proposal received only 7.65 percent of the vote at the annual meeting of the company. Its shareholders followed a recommendation from the board of directors to defeat the proposal. The board argued that the proposal could force the company to redirect resources from other environmental efforts, which include one that aims to source packaging from recycled or renewable sources by the year 2025.

"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 McDonald's board said.

Measure May Potentially Save Marine Life

Figures from the National Park Service revealed that more than 500 million single-use plastic straws are thrown daily in the United States. Americans use an average of 1.6 straws per person per day, which equates to 175 billion straws per year.

"Few people realize that straws are among the top 10 items found during beach cleanups and can do so much harm to seabirds, turtles and other marine creatures," said campaign group For A Strawless Ocean.

Environmental activists argued that the measure could help save marine life that is currently threatened by plastic pollution.

Consumer advocacy group SumOfUs has collected nearly half a million names supporting the petition that calls on McDonald's to stop using plastic straws.

The fast-food giant has 37,000 outlets worldwide serving 78 million customers every day. According to SumOfUs, McDonald's distributes around 95 million single-use straws worldwide each day.

"The problem with plastic is that it never disappears. It breaks into smaller and smaller pieces," marine biologist and SumOfUs member Elaine Leung said. "Although many of you may see plastic straws as a harmless little item, they soon add up and their size means they pose a particular hazard."

Leung cited marine mammals, including whales, eat straws, leading to increased number of dead animals washing up on shores around the globe.

Other Companies Adapt Measures To Reduce Use Of Plastic Straw

Nonetheless, there are companies that already adopted measures to reduce the use of plastic straws. Alaska Airlines, for instance, revealed on Monday that travelers on its flights will use compostable stir straws and citrus picks. The airline also said that it would have non-plastic and marine-friendly drinking straws available upon request.

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