Upcycling Plastic Straws Into A Statement Swimwear Collection

Single-use plastics conceal an ugly truth. They account for half of the 300 million tons of plastic our world produces every year. Whilst their practicality has made them a staple in our everyday lives, they are very hard, if not impossible, to recycle.

The consequence: mountains of plastic, literally, piling up in nature until they end up in our oceans, making up for a staggering 70% of all marine litter. Even worse, once plastic ends up in the ocean, it can take centuries to decompose: 20 years for a plastic bag, 30 years for a coffee cup, 200 years alone for a plastic straw. Disposable products become irreversible waste, harming our planet and wildlife under horrific conditions.

As the world's largest fast-food restaurant chain, and one of the best-known brand names, McDonald’s couldn’t stand still and just watch it happen.


So in 2020, the golden-arched company removed all plastic cups and straws from their Austrian restaurants and came to us to help them find a way to turn this move into a strong statement for sustainability.

Rather than crafting yet another awareness campaign, we decided to turn McDonald’s brand action into an even deeper commitment, one so tangible our audience could wear it.

In collaboration with Viennese label Poleit and Studio Furore, we turned the last iconic yellow-red striped straws and marine plastics into a limited edition upcycled swimwear collection that we made available on McDonald’s website, right in time for summer. Why? Because the only time plastic should be in the ocean, is when it is on you.

To ensure the scalability of our refreshing and unexpectedly useful take on McDonald’s commitment, we brought our idea to life with a digital content campaign shot by photographer Kurt Prinz, spreading the word and winning both consumers’ (+16m impressions) and the media’s heart (+60 headlines worldwide). Ultimately making a great impact on the environment, one swimsuit at the time.

We are delighted about our unique sustainable swimwear collection made from recycled material in our classic straw design. As McDonald’s Austria Marketing Director, I appreciate the close and long-term cooperation with VIRTUE as our local agency partner in Vienna. Together we create unique projects and set new milestones in our sustainability communication.

Benedikt Böcker, Job TitlMarketing Director McDonald’s Austriae


McDonald’s - Upcycling Plastic Straws Into A Statement Swimwear Collection

When McDonald’s removed plastic straws from all its restaurants, we couldn’t let them go to waste. We turned this ocean hazard into an ocean-friendly fashion statement that became an immediate cult classic: An up-cycled swimwear collection commemorating the straws’ iconic design.

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