The one-two punch of this initiative may be what makes it successful. All the recyclable packaging in the world won't help if no one actually, you know, recycles it.
— Kristen Hawley
McDonald’s today announced its plans to offer fully renewable, recyclable, and “certified” packaging by 2025. Additionally, it will offer recycling at all its restaurants on the same timeline. The fast food giant cites customer feedback as its number-one reason for the change, though also positions the move as a way to influence other large restaurant chains to do the same.
“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 in a press release.
The company has launched a number of other related initiatives in the past, including sourcing its fiber-based packaging from sources free of deforestation, and partnering with the Environmental Defense Fund 25 years ago to think through its packaging. According to Bloomberg, an estimated 10 percent of the chain’s locations offer recycling today.
Fast food generates a lot of waste globally, but as BuzzFeed notes, the U.S. leads the world in trash production. While many restaurant chains from fast food to fine casual have worked to responsibly source environmentally-friendly packaging, a commitment from the largest restaurant chain in the world could move the needle in an important and impactful issue.
“Smarter waste management begins with improved sourcing, increased value chain collaboration and better communication with customers,” said Sheila Bonini, senior vice president at World Wildlife Fund “Today’s announcement demonstrates McDonald’s strong leadership in developing packaging and recycling solutions at a scale that can extend the life of our natural resources and push its industry toward more sustainable practices.”