NEXT year the McDonalds UK outlets will replace one-use only plastic straws with recycled paper ones. However, because customers will have to ask for them, it will be interesting to see how many do as the current use is almost two million plastic ones every day.

It’s very unlikely that McDonalds will do more than they have to in their world wide 37,000 outlets as while half their plates, cups and cutlery are made from recycled materials it happens to less than 10 per cent of them.

Many other outlets are following suit, after a fashion, with Wetherspoons, Pizza Express, Costa Coffee and Burger King all indicating that they’ll reduce the amount of plastic where possible.

Our reluctant government should take the lead from two Indian states, Mumbai and Maharashtra which have banned single use plastic containers, cutlery, bags and straws completely. There the local McDonalds and Starbucks have already been fined for not complying, and this attitude is the one the UK needs.

The outlawing of plastic bags in Morocco is another excellent example of a government taking action and banning them completely, though it does look as though many of the locals are reluctant to give them up as each Moroccan used around 800 of them each year.

The fact that Rwanda is probably the cleanest country in Africa, and much of the rest of the world, is partly the result of the enforced ban on plastic bags over ten years ago. The result has been fewer blocked drains, less ingestion by animals and fish, and much less waste generally.

We should be ashamed that Africa is showing us what is possible, but we can all do our little bit such as buying vegetables and fruit loose rather than in plastic bags or cartons, just as our parents used to do.

The food would be taken home in a cloth bag or a wicker basket that had an outing every time we went shopping, and we did that without having a car parked just outside in the car park.