a&w plastic straws
(A&W Canada/Facebook)

That root beer float you’ve been hankering for is going to taste a whole lot sweeter, as A&W Canada announced Friday that it will start phasing out plastic straws at all its restaurants.

Instead, the chain will offer fully bio-degradable paper straws. A&W will start making the switch this August, and will fully phase out plastic straws by the end of 2018.

The straws will last two to three hours in a drink without breaking down, and will naturally biodegrade in three to six months.

A&W is the first North American fast food chain to make the transition. The chain has close to 1,000 restaurants, and the switch to paper straws will keep 82 million plastic straws out of landfills every year.

A&W already uses compostable packaging, along with real mugs, plates, and cutlery, in an effort to reduce waste.

“Introducing packaging innovations that reduce waste is key to A&W’s environmental strategy,” explains Tyler Pronyk, A&W Canada’s Director of Distribution, Equipment & Packaging.

“Eliminating plastic straws is another big step for us. As we learn more about new tools and sustainable practices, we look forward to more improvements ahead.”