McDonald's ramps up sustainable packaging efforts

By Marcus Lawrence
McDonald’s has been a proactive force on the sustainability and CSR scene for a number of years, from encouraging young customers...

McDonald’s has been a proactive force on the sustainability and CSR scene for a number of years, from encouraging young customers to opt for fruit bags rather than chips to sourcing sustainable meat for its burgers. With such a bright spotlight on the plastics crisis, it is no surprise that the fast-food giant is now tackling the sustainability of its packaging in earnest.

Under its ‘Better M’ platform, McDonald’s has unveiled a broad range of packaging initiatives in action across its European operations aimed at driving down its plastics usage in a manner that best fits its customers. 

McFlurries will no longer have their signature plastic lids and their plastic spoons are due to be replaced with alternatives, a fibre-based lid is being rolled out in France for its cold drinks, and Happy Meal toy take-back programmes are being trialled in the UK. In line with meeting customer expectations, McDonald’s is also redesigning its paper straws to improve their strength. 

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The options, bar the decision to remove all McFlurry lids from its European outlets by the end of 2020, are being trialled at various outlets across the continent with the aim of collating direct consumer feedback and leveraging that data to best optimise and scale the alternative packaging solutions for full-scale rollouts.

In its press release on the matter, McDonald’s said its fibre-based packaging in Europe already accounts for 88% of the total over the 78% across its global operations, adding that the changes will nonetheless be impactful for its wider sustainability goals.

The removal of McFlurry lids, for example, will save 1,200 tonnes of plastic each year. The same volume of plastics will be saved in France alone through the introduction of fibre-based drinks lids, with those materials to come from 100% certified sustainable sources.

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