McDonald’s, Oak Brook, Ill., announced goals to improve its packaging and help significantly reduce waste.  

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 plans to recycle guest packaging in 100% of McDonald’s restaurants.

This expands upon McDonald’s existing goal that by 2020, 100% of fiber-based packaging will 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,” says Francesca DeBiase, 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.

McDonald’s first began its focus on sustainable packaging nearly 25 years ago with its groundbreaking partnership with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), New York. The initiative eliminated more than 300 million pounds of packaging, recycled 1 million tons of corrugated boxes and reduced waste by 30% in the decade following the partnership.

“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 non-profit 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,” says Tom Murray, vice president of EDF+Business at EDF.

In 2014, McDonald’s joined World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF’s) Global Forest & Trade Network program, and set its fiber sourcing targets, including FSC preference for packaging made from wood fiber.

“Smarter waste management begins with improved sourcing, increased value chain collaboration and better communication with customers,” says Sheila Bonini, senior vice president, private sector engagement, WWF, Switzerland. “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.”

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 says.