Fast-food giant McDonald's is to phase out all plastic straws at its Irish restaurants
Fast-food giant McDonald's will begin the process of phasing out plastic straws in its Irish restaurants from September.
The company will be switching to paper straws in a bid to reduce plastic waste.
It comes after McDonald's moved all its plastic straws behind the counter to "put the decision for use in the hands of the customer".
A straw, which is used for only 20 minutes on average, can take more than 200 years to break down into smaller pieces and often does not fully disintegrate.
In America, 500 million plastic straws are used every day.
An increasing number of businesses are removing plastic straws from their operations in a bid to stem plastic waste which pollutes oceans and harms marine wildlife such as turtles and fish.
Last week, Ikea announced it aims to phase out all single-use plastic products from its stores and restaurants by 2020.
A new summer initiative in Westport, Co Mayo, and Kilkee, Co Clare, has resulted in business owners in both towns switching entirely to compostable packaging.
In May, the Restaurants Association of Ireland called on its 2,500 members to implement a ban on single-use straws.
TD Denis Naughten welcomed McDonald's environmentally conscientious decision.
He said the news was a "clear demonstration that large companies and organisations are taking their environmental responsibilities seriously".
Mr Naughten said McDonald's was "moving in the right direction by eliminating single-use plastics".
United Nations figures show eight million tonnes of plastic - bottles, packaging and other waste - enter the ocean each year.