McDonald’s pledges to publish report on industrial impacts of reusable packaging

USA – McDonald’s Corporation has pledged to evaluate and report on the opportunities and risks posed by switching to reusable packaging, including its impacts related to single-use plastic and other single-use packaging and the environment.

In response to the announcement, the non-profit foundation As You Sow withdrew its shareholder proposal with the company.

In a shareholder resolution filed last year, As you Sow says nearly 42% of McDonald’s investors, representing more than 206 million shares and US$51 billion in assets, expressed support for action to reduce plastic pollution.

As You Sow says McDonald’s currently complies with a new French law requiring all on-site dining to utilize reusable packaging, yet has no public plans to expand the packaging to the United States.

In light of new laws in the U.S. taxing corporations for single-use packaging to, in part, address plastic pollution, As You Sow says it filed the resolution to encourage McDonald’s to evaluate how the expansion of reusable packaging could benefit the company from reputational, financial and environmental perspectives.

In subsequent dialogue, McDonald’s apparently emphasized its commitment to exploring reusable packaging in line with its wider aims of implementing a sustainable approach to its packaging, toys, and waste reduction efforts, stating its plans to publish a comprehensive study in early 2024.

Further engagement between the organizations saw McDonald’s agree to include an assessment of the industrial and environmental opportunities and risks posed by full-scale reuse in the context of the System Change Scenario proposed by the Breaking the Plastic Wave report.

In this work, it is said that eight complementary interventions must be implemented to achieve an 80% reduction in plastic pollution by 2024.

This is expected to provide potential actions and goal frameworks for the fast-food chain to utilize in its rollout of reusables.

“We commend McDonald’s for committing to the exploration of a more circular future for quick-service restaurant dining,” said Kelly McBee, circular economy senior coordinator at As You Sow.

“We anticipate the report will demonstrate reusable packaging to be a critical component of sustainable operations and hope this action signals other quick-service restaurants to follow McDonald’s lead.”

As You Sow has also worked alongside other organizations in an effort to encourage a widespread adoption of reusable packaging solutions for food and beverage chains.

The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo have announced that, by 2030, they will serve their products in a respective 25% volume of reusable or refillable packaging and 20% of PepsiCo’s total portfolio in reusable packaging.

Meanwhile, Starbucks aims to implement a complete switch to personal reusable mugs in all its dine-in and drive-thru locations by the end of 2023.

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