A&W Canada Used the Last of Its Plastic Straws to Make a Sculpture Announcing the Change

It's the first restaurant chain in North America to drop them

A&W's straw sculpture is on display in front of downtown Toronto's Union Station.
A&W's straw sculpture is on display in front of downtown Toronto's Union Station. A&W Canada
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When you’ve decided to stop serving something but still have a ton of it on hand, what’s the right way to put it to good use? For A&W Canada, the answer was to take all its remaining plastic straws and turn them into a sculpture announcing the restaurant chain’s switch to biodegradable paper straws.

The brand’s 35-foot-long “Change Is Good” sculpture, designed by agency Rethink and created by Toronto firm TYGH from 140,000 straws remaining in the brand’s stockpile, is currently on display in front of downtown Toronto’s Union Station.

The chain recently became North America’s first to drop plastic straws completely in favor of paper straws that are marine-degradable to avoid endangering ocean and freshwater ecologies. A&W Canada estimates its policy change will keep 82 million single-use plastic straws from ending up in landfills or bodies of water.

A&W Canada's straw sculpture is shown from an angle.

“We wanted to create this sculpture to inspire people and businesses alike that small changes can have a big impact,” says Susan Senecal, A&W Canada’s president and CEO. “It also fuels our commitment to continuously work toward creating positive change within our own organization.”

With more than 950 locations, A&W is Canada’s second-largest hamburger chain, surpassed only by McDonald’s. The straw ban is part of the brand’s wide-ranging environmental initiative, which aims to lessen the chain’s environmental impact in five key areas: food sourcing, packaging, energy, water usage and waste.

Close-up of A&W Canada's straw sculpture
A person takes a photo of A&W Canada's straw sculpture.
@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."