With just a few hours to spare before I needed to head to the airport, I opened Google Maps on my phone and thought something I hadn’t thought in many years: “OK, I need to find a McDonald’s.”
I was in Taiwan last month, having spent a week visiting various machinery manufacturers. I wasn’t on the hunt for a Big Mac or a little taste of America before I hopped on a plane; I was chasing down a potential story tip.
A conversation the day before about single use plastics with Andy Lu, a smart machinery marketing expert from the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, had sent me on this chase.
“McDonald’s in Taipei have already gotten rid of straws,” he said, casually.
“What?” I responded, surprised.
“They have a whole marketing campaign that translates to ‘kiss the cup.’ Like you kiss the drink instead of using the straw,” he said. “It started a couple of weeks ago.”
Taiwan has plans to phase out many single use plastics, and that includes straws. It seems like one of the biggest restaurants in the world wanted to get a head start on the action.
I found a nearby McDonald’s and walked in. Sure enough, people were carrying around cups with polypropylene lids that sort of resembled sippy cups for babies. I got in line and ordered a Coke.
While waiting for the order, I noticed an empty straw dispenser with Chinese characters on it. According to Google Translate, it read: “I have retired the straw box. Kiss. Drink directly from cold drinks. Love the Earth together and don’t take a straw.”