Recovering and recycling our packaging
Making recycling easier for our guests
Recycling shouldn’t be a chore. That’s why want to make it easier for our guests. We’re in the process of launching sorting and recycling points in select restaurants across our top markets and piloting improved recycling bin signage to make the recycling process easier to understand.
Keeping communities clean
Our restaurant crew across the world take part in local litter clean-ups. For example, McDonald’s Belgium launched the ‘Garbage, We Take It Personally’ campaign in 2018 with the ambition to reduce the litter in the cities in which McDonald’s operates by 20% by the end of 2023. In 2019, McDonald’s Switzerland convened crew members, senior leaders in the business, suppliers and guests for a joint clean-up day across nine cities.
Recycling back of house materials
We’ve also made progress in recycling behind the kitchen counter at our restaurants. At more than 85% of McDonald’s restaurants globally, crew recycle materials such as used cooking oil and corrugated cardboard. Learn more about how we’re looking at McDonald’s restaurant design, equipment and crew operations to ensure our environmental footprint is low and our community legacy is positive.
Resourcing materials to close the loop
Closing the loop on the coffee cup
We’re testing coffee cup recycling schemes to find the best ways to scale up recycling and provide quality recycled material which can be reused in new packaging. In the UK, our paper cups are sent to specialist recycling centers to make different recycled products, such as park benches, from the fiber and plastic lining.
Recycling ocean plastic waste
McDonald’s Norway is producing serving trays made of from 100% recycled marine plastic waste from the Nordland coast, in partnership with a small group that makes plastic pellets from marine waste collected by fishermen. The group creates products out of the marine plastic, like sunglasses, shoes and now, trays for McDonald’s restaurants.
Reusing toys in trays
In 2018, McDonald’s Japan initiated a toy recycling program with the Japanese Ministry of the Environment to collect plastic Happy Meal toys and convert them into restaurant serving trays. As part of this program, McDonald’s Japan collected around 1.27 million used plastic toys which were turned into over 100,000 trays.
To keep delighting our customers now and in the future, we’re working to identify more sustainable solutions for our Happy Meal toys globally, while offering the same safety, quality and durability. We have a global working group exploring the production of more sustainable toy options and we’re looking forward to sharing more soon. Learn moreabout our global commitment to families.
Inviting customers to trial and test new packaging ideas
In June 2019, we trialed a nearly plastic packaging-free restaurant in Berlin for 10 days. We tested edible waffle cups in place of condiment sachets and containers. Paper straws replaced plastic straws. Wooden cutlery replaced plastic cutlery. Sandwiches were wrapped in packaging made from grass, not paper. And Chicken McNuggets were served in paper bags, rather than cardboard boxes.
The idea wasn’t to make every sustainable packaging change at once. Instead, it was to facilitate an open discussion about what works, what doesn’t, and the challenges with possible solutions between McDonald’s, our customers and various stakeholders. It was also an opportunity for customers and stakeholders to experience various solutions and provide us with feedback. Our customers believed the paper straws were eco-friendly, but had challenges with respect to ease of use and durability. We also learned that wooden cutlery isn’t many peoples’ favorite option, as one in two guests disliked the “woody” taste of the spoon.
We’re running similar concept restaurants in Canada and plan to expand this to other markets in the future. This will continue to help us innovate, learn about our customers’ expectations, and help engage a broad group in the conversation.