McDonald's Announces Its Packaging Will Go Completely Green By 2025

"By acting now we hope to lead the industry toward a more sustainable future and fuel a movement to address waste as a global community."

On Jan. 16, fast food giant McDonald's announced via a press release that all of its packaging — the cartons, wrappers, cups, bags, and straws — will come from "renewable, recycled, or certified sources" by 2025. If you're counting, that gives the world's largest fast-food chain about seven years to literally clean itself up, though it's worth noting that roughly half of McDonald's packaging already comes from renewable, recycled or certified materials.

In addition, McDonald's also made it clear that by the 2025 deadline, all stores will have recycling collection stations, which also aims to help better handle the massive amount of waste generated by those golden arches. Currently, BuzzFeed News reports only around 10 percent of McDonald's 37,000 restaurants around the world recycle their trash.

The outlet also notes that because the world's most recognizable restaurant chain serves approximately 69 million customers a day, these simple changes stand to have a huge impact on the global environment. "Our customers have told us that packaging waste is the top environmental issue they would like us to address," McDonald's sustainability officer Francesca DeBiase said in a statement to CNN Money. "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."

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the paper, aluminum, glass, plastics and other recyclable material thrown away in the United States annually would be worth an estimated $11.4 billion if it were recycled instead. The organization also reports less than 14 percent of plastic packaging — the fastest-growing form of packaging — gets recycled, making single-use food and beverage packaging a prime source of the estimated 269,000 tons of plastic pollution currently floating around in the world's oceans, harming marine life and possibly human health as well.

A majority of McDonald's cups and wrappers are not currently recyclable because they are coated in wax, though the company is hopeful it can come up with a more sustainable solution such as developing new packaging materials that can be processed. The Environmental Defense Fund, which partnered with McDonald's decades ago to reduce its packaging waste, told Buzzfeed about the power the golden arches have to enact change across the fast food industry as a whole. 

"These goals can be transformational because no other restaurant has the scope and global supply chain reach like McDonald's to drive change." the organization explained. "When McDonald's asks for a change, their suppliers deliver. The company's actions have a ripple effect across the entire supply chain."

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It appears as though McDonald's is aware of the influence it holds over other fast food chains. "By acting now and boldly, we hope to lead the industry and our customers toward a more sustainable future and fuel a movement to address waste as a global community," DeBiase added in the press release. 

Cover image via 8th.creator / Shutterstock.com

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