Packaging & Waste

Why It Matters

Packaging helps us serve hot, fresh and delicious food quickly and safely to our customers. It also reduces food waste by keeping food fresher for longer.

But we know that packaging and plastic waste can have a negative impact on our planet, and we want to help tackle this challenge.

We also know that customers care about our packaging. They want it to perform well, but they also tell us that the environmental impact of our packaging and waste is their number one environmental concern for us to address.

 

Our Approach

At McDonald’s, we want to use our global scale to help accelerate a circular economy.
As part of our Scale for Good ambition, we’ve made two key commitments:

  1. Source 100% of our guest packaging from renewable, recycled, or certified sources by 2025. This includes an interim goal to source 100% of primarily fiber-based guest packaging from recycled or certified sources where no deforestation occurs by 2020.

  2. Recycle guest packaging in 100% of McDonald’s restaurants by 2025. We understand that recycling infrastructure varies from city to city and country to country, but we plan to be part of the solution and help influence powerful change.

 

Tackling Plastic Pollution

We believe that some plastic packaging is necessary in the food industry to maintain quality and safety. Plastic has many benefits compared with other materials. For example, it’s lighter than glass and fiber, and therefore emits less CO2 emissions when transported. However, we know that when plastic isn’t recycled or recovered correctly, it creates plastic pollution which is harmful to the environment. Today, the use of plastic is rapidly increasing around the world, yet according to the OECDv just 14-18% of all plastic gets recycled globally. We want to play our part in addressing this issue.
 

Today, the use of plastic is rapidly increasing around the world, yet according to the OECDv just 14-18% of all plastic gets recycled globally. We want to play our part in addressing this issue.

Today, the use of plastic is rapidly increasing around the world, yet according to the OECDv just 14-18% of all plastic gets recycled globally. We want to play our part in addressing this issue.

Although the majority of our packaging is fiber-based, approximately 22% percent of our packaging globally remains in plastic mainly for functional property needs and food safety. To improve capture rates and reduce the leakage of plastic waste into the environment, we’re working to:
 

  1. Reduce plastic in guest packaging which is hard to recycle, is not needed for safety or functionality, and is likely to leak into the environment, such as straws, plastic bags and cutlery.

  2. Prioritize innovation of new materials and redesign of plastic packaging to be more recyclable. We understand the importance of streamlining plastics in order to improve recycling rates. Our goal is to streamline material types and design packaging so that it’s easier for customers to recycle.

  3. Increase the amount of recycled plastic content used in all parts of our restaurants, where possible, to help drive demand for plastic recycling. For example, using recycled plastics in trays, toys, and interior design elements of our restaurants

  4. Partner with companies and non-profit organizations to support the development and expansion of recycling programs for plastics. Use our local restaurants to support community level anti-litter initiatives such as consumer communication campaigns and clean-up days.

 

Working in Partnership

Addressing plastic pollution is not a challenge we can tackle alone. We’re engaging with the wider business community, expert NGO partners, political stakeholders, as well as our Franchisees, suppliers, customers, and our restaurant crew to help drive change at scale.

We’re proud to be a Principal Member of ReSource: Plastic, World Wildlife Fund’s platform to leverage the power of business to stop the flow of plastic waste into nature. We’re also collaborating with Quantis on the Plastic Leak Project. This one-year multi-stakeholder initiative will allow us to measure our system’s plastic waste impact and use this to inform and develop scalable solutions.

Our packaging and recycling efforts support the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a global agenda to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, specifically: