Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Corporations only like the sort of news that has been meticulously crafted by their spectacular PR people.

Sadly -- for the corporations, at least -- it doesn't always happen like that.

The media sometimes gets hold of uncomfortable information and publishes it.

Worse, customers sometimes decide they've had enough of the corporation's shenanigans and vent their bile on Twitter.

Which then gets regurgitated by the media.

Fast food companies like McDonald's have, for some time now, been pilloried for habits that aren't friendly to the Earth.

One constant needle stuffed into McDonald's effigy is the use of plastic straws.

Finally, the burger chain decided to do something.

In the U.K., it began replacing the plastic straws with ones made of paper.

Confetti descended from the skies. McDonald's executives were garlanded with flowers wherever they went.

Oh, I wish that were the case.

You see, the grimly amusing consequences were relayed by the BBC.

The new paper straws, it seems, can't be recycled by the company.

I suspect some might think this funny. 

I suspect I might have inadvertently joined that group when I heard.

I have, however, preserved an additional kink.

The plastic straws that McDonald's used before were recyclable.

Please, I completely understand why we should be greener than green in order to appear whiter than white.

I appreciate that the Earth is dying and the humans who live on it don't really deserve its beauty.

But I confess to smiling at what happened here. This is all customers' fault.

McDonald's explained it with the utmost elegance: 

As a result of customer feedback, we have strengthened our paper straws, so while the materials are recyclable, their current thickness makes it difficult for them to be processed by our waste solution providers, who also help us recycle our paper cups.

Yes, customers whined that the paper straws wilted under the pressure of their lips. 

Paper isn't, after all, an ideal material to conduct liquids.

The chain of joy, then, looks like this.

Eco-conscious customers wanted paper straws, so that the world could be saved.

Then they complained that those straws were too flimsy because saving the world wasn't quite as important to them as the efficient ingesting of Coca-Cola.

McDonald's, desperately keen to preserve its eco-positive image, tried to do something about it.

And here we are with a recycling problem.

The company says it's trying to fix things, but do you think there's even one McDonald's customer who's accepting their share of responsibility?

I doubt it.

Published on: Sep 1, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.