McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) has announced an ambitious new plan to have 100 percent of its customer packaging obtained from renewable, recycled, or certified sources by 2025. “Certified sources” refers to materials that come from natural sources where no deforestation occurs. Currently, 50 percent of its customer packaging comes from such sources.
McDonald’s had already set a goal to have all of its fiber-based packaging obtained from recycled or certified sources by 2020. Currently, 64 percent of fiber-based packaging comes from such sources. Last week, McDonald’s also revealed plans to phase out its foam packaging by the end of the year. Foam drink containers make up roughly 2 percent of McDonald’s packaging.
McDonald’s also wants to make recycling available in all its restaurants by 2025. Right now, about 10 percent of the fast food giant’s restaurants are recycling. McDonald’s plans to work with local governments and environmental associations to reach these goals.
The company says it is making these moves to help reduce waste and have a positive community impact. Francesca DeBiase, McDonald’s chief supply chain and sustainability officer, said in a statement, “We have a responsibility to use our scale for good to make changes that will have a meaningful impact across the globe.” McDonald’s is the nation’s largest restaurant company by revenue, with more than 37,000 locations in more than 100 countries.
McDonald’s began to focus on sustainable packaging nearly 25 years ago. Its partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund has eliminated more than 300 million pounds of packaging, recycled 1 million tons of corrugated boxes, and reduced waste by 30 percent in its first ten years. McDonald’s also follows the World Wildlife Fund’s global forest and trade network’s fiber sourcing targets
Environmental groups praised the announcement. According to the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council, the U.S. has one of the lowest recycling rates of any developed nation. Currently, less than 14 percent of plastic packaging is recycled. The agency estimates that Americans throw out about $165 billion worth of food every year, and food waste and packaging make up about 45 percent of all the materials in U.S. landfills.