McDonald's sets recycling goals for packaging, restaurants

(Reuters) - McDonald’s Corp said on Tuesday it is responding to customers’ No. 1 request by setting goals for switching to environmentally friendly packaging materials and offering recycling in all of its restaurants.

The logo of a McDonald's Corp restaurant is seen in Los Angeles, California, U.S. October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

“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.

The world’s biggest restaurant chain will aim to get 100 percent of its packaging from renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025, with a preference for Forest Stewardship Council certification, which ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests.

Currently, half of McDonald’s customer packaging comes from renewable, recycled or certified sources, and 64 percent of fiber-based packaging comes from certified or recycled sources.

The company will also make recycling available in all of its restaurants by 2025, up from around 10 percent today.

Last week, McDonald’s said it would eliminate foam packaging from its global supply chain by the end of this year.

Recycling infrastructure, regulations and consumer behaviors vary city to city and country to country around the world, said DeBiase. She said that McDonald’s will work with industry experts, local governments and environmental groups to improve packaging designs, create new recycling programs, set progress benchmarks and educate its employees and customers.

“These goals have the potential to be transformational because no other restaurant has the scope and global supply chain of McDonald’s,” said Tom Murray, vice president of corporate partnerships at the Environmental Defense Fund, which is one of McDonald’s partners on the waste reduction and recycling initiative.

Such efforts are good for the environment and for the bottom line, said Murray. “When McDonald’s began their waste reduction efforts nearly 30 years ago, the business and environmental benefits were immediate: the company saved an estimated $6 million a year.”

McDonald’s also has used its large size and global reach to fight the rise of dangerous, antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as “superbugs”.

Scientists and public health experts warn that using medically important antibiotics to prevent disease and speed up growth in healthy animals fuels the development of those potentially deadly bacteria.

In 2015, McDonald’s was the first global fast-food chain to commit to eliminating the use of those drugs from its U.S. chicken supply chain, a move that prompted most of its rivals and most major chicken suppliers to follow suit.

Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Malcolm Foster