McDonald’s was toying with the idea of no longer offering plastic straws at its eateries in the United States, but shareholders overwhelming voted down the proposal in May 2018. 
Under the proposal, the fast food company would have been required to compile a report concerning the business risks posed by using plastic straws, as well as its efforts to develop and implement more sustainable alternatives at its dining establishments.
The proposal states:
“We believe our company has the opportunity to improve its brand by demonstrating leadership in the elimination of plastic straws.”
Many more companies will need to step forward to ban plastic straws if the plastics problem is to ever improve, but if McDonald’s had taken the lead, it could have at least made a dent in the crisis. McDonald’s is the #1 fast food restaurant in the United States, having made $36.4 billion in sales in 2016, making it larger than Starbucks, Subway, and Domino’s combined.
Moreover, McDonald’s distributes 95 million plastic straws around the world every day, according to SumOfUs.
Environmental activists had campaigned rigorously for the passage of the proposal, but a paltry 7.65% of shareholders voted in favor of the move on May 24, 2018.
The proposal’s rejection wasn’t a huge shock, however. The shareholders followed a recommendation from the company’s board of directors, who argued that the plan would divert resources from their other environmental initiatives, including a January 2018 pledge by the fast food chain to source all packaging from renewable or recycled resources by 2025.
Materials obtained by the Mercury News that were given to shareholders before the meeting state:
“[T]he 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, particularly in light of our ongoing packaging sustainability efforts.”
In the end, it really is about the almighty dollar. Wouldn’t a cleaner world be considered a “corresponding benefit” to McDonald’s customers?
Elaine Leung, a marine biologist and member of SumOfUs, said of the vote:
“The problem with plastic is that it never disappears. It breaks into smaller and smaller pieces. 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.” 
SumOfUs is a global advocacy organization that launched an online petition urging McDonald’s to ban plastic straws gathering more than 480,000 signatures. 
In England, McDonald’s is currently experimenting with paper straws, keeping the plastic ones behind the counter and only handing them out if requested. 
“We continue to work to find a more sustainable solution for plastic straws globally. In the meantime, we have adopted compostable straws in certain markets to meet regulations while we work with packaging experts to develop a planet-friendly, cost-effective answer for all McDonald’s restaurants.”
Meanwhile, individual cities are doing their part to cut back on pollution, including Seattle, where a ban on plastic straws and utensils in city restaurants is set to go into effect July 1.
 USA Today