McDonald’s to start testing reusable cups in effort to cut waste

McDonald’s is planning a test that it said could reduce packaging waste.

The Chicago-based fast food chain said it has partnered with packaging service Loop to run a trial of reusable coffee cups at some of its U.K. restaurants next year.

Customers at the participating locations will have the option to pay a small deposit for a durable, reusable cup when buying a hot beverage, according to McDonald’s. They can then redeem the deposit by returning the cup after finishing the drink.

The cups will then be washed and sanitized by Loop and reused at McDonald’s again.

It’s a major change in thinking for the fast food chain, which relied on disposable packaging to keep service speed up and costs down from the beginning. As a cashier explains to Michael Keaton’s astounded Ray Croc on his first visit to the restaurant in the McDonald’s origin movie “The Founder": “You just eat it straight out of the wrapper, and then you throw it all out.”

Jenny McColloch, vice president of global sustainability at McDonald’s, said the company is “on a journey to rethink how we package products to give customers options that reduce waste, maintain the highest safety standards and enhance the McDonald’s experience they expect and enjoy.”

The pilot will generate insights and lessons about new ways to package the restaurant’s items, according to McColloch.

“We’re excited to assess how new reusable packaging models could work within our system as we accelerate circular packaging solutions with our partners around the globe,” she said in a written statement.

McDonald’s can recycle its paper cups at most of its UK restaurants via a special recycling center that can remove the plastic lining from the fiber. The company said it’s working to recycle paper cups in multiple markets, too.


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