McDonald’s sets new sustainability goal

Company to source 100% of guest packaging from renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025.

McDonald’s announced Jan. 16 a new set of goals to improve its packaging, which it said will help significantly reduce waste to positively affect the communities the company serves around the world.

By 2025, 100% of McDonald’s guest packaging will come from renewable, recycled or certified sources, with a preference for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. Also by 2025, the company has set a goal to recycle guest packaging in 100% of McDonald’s restaurants.

“McDonald’s understands that recycling infrastructure, regulations and consumer behaviors vary city to city and country to country around the world, but it plans to be part of the solution and help influence powerful change," the company said.

The company said the latest announcement expands upon its existing goal by 2020 for 100% of fiber-based packaging to come from recycled or certified sources where no deforestation occurs.

“As the world’s largest restaurant company, we have a responsibility to use our scale for good to make changes that will have a meaningful impact across the globe,” said Francesca DeBiase, McDonald’s chief supply chain and sustainability officer. “Our customers have told us that packaging waste is the top environmental issue they would like us to address. Our ambition is to make changes our customers want and to use less packaging, sourced responsibly and designed to be taken care of after use, working at and beyond our restaurants to increase recycling and help create cleaner communities.”

To reach these goals, McDonald’s will work with leading industry experts, local governments and environmental associations to improve packaging and recycling practices. Together, they will work to drive smarter packaging designs, implement new recycling programs, establish new measurement programs and educate restaurant crew and customers.

Tom Murray, vice president of EDF+Business at the Environmental Defense Fund, noted, “Nearly three decades ago, McDonald’s and EDF teamed up to tackle solid waste and accelerate innovation in packaging. Along the way, we pioneered a new partnership model for companies and nonprofit organizations. Today, McDonald’s continues to raise the sustainability bar by setting ambitious goals and collaborating with partners across the value chain for maximum impact."

Kim Carstensen, FSC director general, said, “McDonald’s global preference for Forest Stewardship Council-certified materials demonstrates their far-reaching commitment to source packaging that benefits people and forests around the world. The partnership between McDonald’s and FSC – the world’s most trusted certification of forests and forest products – also creates a uniquely powerful opportunity for McDonald’s to engage customers about simple ways to protect forests.

McDonald’s first began its focus on sustainable packaging nearly 25 years ago with the establishment of the groundbreaking partnership with EDF. The initiative eliminated more than 300 million lb. of packaging, recycled 1 million tons of corrugated boxes and reduced waste by 30% in the decade following the partnership. In 2014, the company joined the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Forest & Trade Network program and set its fiber sourcing targets, including FSC preference for packaging made from wood fiber.

Currently, 50% of McDonald’s customer packaging comes from renewable, recycled or certified sources, and 64% of fiber-based packaging comes from certified or recycled sources. Also, an estimated 10% of McDonald’s restaurants globally are recycling customer packaging.

“We look forward to doing more and continuing to raise the bar on what it means to be a responsible company committed to people and the planet,” DeBiase said.

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