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McDonald's Ditching Styrofoam Cups for Paper

McDonald's Ditching Styrofoam Cups for Paper


The fast-food chain is making the switch in all their 14,000 restaurants in America

McDonald's will start serving hot drinks in paper cups nationwide.

McDonald's is joining the ranks of the eco-friendly, as the corporate company has announced that all their American restaurants will start serving hot beverages in paper cups instead of polystyrene (or Styrofoam) cups.

Plastic News reports that the non-recyclable cups will be eliminated, after tests of double-walled paper cups went well. Styrofoam is commonly used in food containers, although Bloomberg wanted to ban Styrofoam containers in New York City, and it's already highly regulated in some areas of California.

McDonald's discontinued the use of Styrofoam in its burger packaging back in 1990; As You Sow, the nonprofit that pushed for this change, called the announcement a "great start… We hope they will also incorporate recycled fiber in the cups and develop on-site systems to collect and recycle food service packaging." McDonald's will still be using plastic cups for some of their cold drinks, as "at this point we have only identified fiber as an alternative material for the hot coffee cup. We're continuing to seek and test alternatives for our large cold cups," a representative told Plastic News.

This switch, however, should help increase recyclability, the rep says, although as previously noted, some paper cups (notably the ones tested at Dunkin' Donuts) are plastic-lined, and not necessarily recycled.


McDonald’s Switching To Paper Cups For Hot Beverages At All Restaurants

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McDonald’s Switching To Paper Cups For Hot Beverages At All Restaurants

The fast food behemoth has been testing double-walled paper cups at numerous McDonald’s stores on the West Coast since 2012.

“Moving to a paper-based cup across 14,000 restaurants translates to a significant impact,” a rep from McDonald’s HQ tells Plastics News (your source for news about plastics). “The reasons for this change include customers’ changing preferences and increased recyclability.”

McDonald’s also felt pressure to ditch polystyrene in one of its biggest markets, New York City, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to ban the use of the material in food containers.

Extruded polystyrene — colloquially called Styrofoam, though that is actually the brand name for certain type of extruded polystyrene — is already banned or highly regulated in its use for food containers in several municipalities in California.

As You Sow, the organization that originally issued the 2011 shareholder proposal regarding the switch from polystyrene to paper, says that this news is a “great start… We hope they will also incorporate recycled fiber in the cups and develop on-site systems to collect and recycle food service packaging.”

The decision to move away from PS coffee cups comes more than a generation after McDonald’s famously stopped using the material in its clamshell burger containers in 1990.

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Are McDonalds cups recyclable?

With your help we can recycle drinks cups and coffee cups as well as plastic items like cutlery. All the remaining waste goes to 'energy from waste' facilities where it is converted to electricity.

Also, is McDonalds recyclable? As of 2018, we recycle guest packaging in an estimated 10% of McDonald's restaurants around the world. In some markets, McDonald's restaurants offer customer-facing recycling, such as sorting bins, or collect guest waste and sort it for recycling behind the counter.

Additionally, are fast food drink cups recyclable?

Since most fast food restaurants use paper, plastic or Styrofoam cups to serve their drinks, almost all fast food cups are recyclable. Since this material is lightweight, recycling centers generally do not make money recycling Styrofoam so they usually don't accept it. That means, the cups go into a landfill.

Do paper straws have plastic in them?

Paper Straws Are not Biodegradable nor Recyclable Further problems: Paper straws are not actually biodegradable and use significantly more energy to produce than plastic straws. Paper straws aren't recyclable. Plastic products that encounter food are recyclable, but paper products, which absorb food and waste, are not.


McDonald’s is making a big change to its soft drinks in 2018

If you order an extra-large soda at McDonald's, the fast-food giant might give you a foam cup to fill. But that's about to change.

By the end of 2018, McDonald's says it will ditch foam cold-beverage cups and trays in every location around the world. The company also plans to use 100% recycled fiber-based packaging globally by 2020. Fiber-based packaging currently makes up over half of all cups, wrappings, containers, and trays, according to McDonald's.

This is the first time McDonald's has committed to a strict deadline to drop foam materials, which represent 2% of its packaging.

In recent years, environmental groups and some customers have expressed concerns about the toll McDonald's single-use foam packaging takes on the environment, since it's nearly impossible to recycle.

According to a 2015 report by environmental NGOs As You Sow and the Natural Resources Defense Council, most large food brands are not doing much to address the issue. The report analyzed 47 food companies — including McDonald's, Burger King, and Domino's Pizza — based on what they call the "four pillars of packaging sustainability:" switching to reusable packaging recycled content recyclability and materials use and boosting materials recycling. None of the 47 brands fulfilled all four pillars.

McDonald's initially made the foam-packaging announcement on its website in May 2016, and published a report that further outlined its sustainability goals.

In 1986, the company started serving burgers and chicken nuggets in foam "clamshells," but later dropped them in 1990. A year later, it switched to more environmentally friendly paper wrappings and containers in some locations.

The latest decision to stop using foam packaging could encourage other fast-food giants to do the same.


McDonald’s to Do Away With Foam Packages

McDonald’s Corp. announced Thursday that it will phase out the foam containers and replace them with paper packaging considered less harmful to the environment.

The move is the first result of an unusual joint effort between the fast-food chain and the Environmental Defense Fund, a leading group of lawyers, scientists and economists based in Washington, D.C.

McDonald’s has been working with the group for the past three months looking at how the restaurant disposes of all its waste products.

“They kept our feet in the fire to look for alternative packaging, alternatives to foam,” said Shelby Yastrow, McDonald’s senior vice president in charge of environmental affairs.

“And we found the alternative and figured out how to make it work.”

“The move really opens the door to further changes,” said Richard Denison, a senior scientist with the environmental group and its spokesman on the task force.

McDonald’s is not yet sure just what paper-based packaging will be adopted over the next two months. But the first wave of products to be affected will be the Big Mac, McD.L.T., Quarter Pounder, Egg McMuffin, Filet-O-Fish, Chicken McNuggets, the McChicken Sandwich and the Danish. These use 75% of the company’s foam containers.

The fast-food chain, which has more than 11,000 restaurants around the world, has long been a target of environmental groups critical of what they consider wasteful and ecologically unsound packaging. The Oak Brook, Ill.-based company and its clamshell box have been widely condemned as symbols of a throw-away society.

Since forming a task force with McDonald’s, Environmental Defense Fund staffers have studied the composting of food scraps, examined benches made from recycled plastic utensils and generally looked to reduce the amount of packaging at every point.

“They’re working in our restaurants,” Yastrow said, “asking questions like: ‘How about trying to serve the drinks without lids?’ That sort of thing. . . . We have a lot of things we’re working on, but this is the first announcement that has come out from under the door.”

There are hints that the joint effort has had its moments of tension, however.

McDonald’s had defended its polystyrene packaging, noting that unlike cardboard, no trees had to be cut down to produce it and it provides neat, sanitary protection of food. Many defenders also say that polystyrene can be disposed of in waste incinerators or even used again through the small but growing polystyrene recycling system.

“No question, we are disappointed that they made this decision,” said Eric Dezenhall, a spokesman for the National Polystyrene Recycling Co. Its experiments with foam recycling had made McDonald’s “one of the best educational resources in the country,” he said.

The Environmental Defense Fund has long promoted paper and cardboard containers and opposes incinerators.

In the task force agreement, both sides had been wary. The environmental group would not be paid, and McDonald’s cannot use the environmental group’s name for promotion.

For its part, McDonald’s has made no pledge to take the group’s advice to heart if it doesn’t agree with the task force conclusions. The two sides haven’t even agreed to issue a joint report.

“We didn’t turn the management of this company over to a task force,” Yastrow said.

Still, more than a week ago when McDonald’s told the Environmental Defense Fund that it was planning to expand its polystyrene recycling program to all restaurants, the company listened as the environmentalists argued against it, over the phone and in meetings.

“The last four or five or six days around here were very intense, about whether we should make the change,” Yastrow said. The telling argument became that paper packaging would fit into the company’s operations as well as polystyrene, but would reduce package bulk by 90%.

For McDonald’s that was a lot better than recycling, since fully 60% of its packages leave the store and wouldn’t be recycled anyway.

The Environmental Defense Fund apparently made a further point to a company made sensitive to criticism from its customers.

“They added the sense of how this would be perceived in the environmental community,” Yastrow said, “because they have a finger on the pulse there.”

McDonald’s for some time has moved to quiet critics by changing its ways. It now uses napkins and Happy Meal boxes made of recycled fiber, and its McRibs sandwiches come wrapped in recycled newsprint. The company has adopted ambitious recycling programs, particularly in New England and Southern California. And back in the storerooms, it has redesigned boxes for transporting french fries in bulk to reduce the number of boxes needed each day. It has even pledged to buy $100-million worth of recycled materials annually to build its new restaurants.

On Thursday, Ed Rensi, president of McDonald’s U.S. operations, said that, “although some scientific studies indicate that foam packaging is environmentally sound, our customers just don’t feel good about it. So we’re changing.”

Barry Edwards, field purchasing manager for McDonald’s Corp. for the San Francisco region, expects even his workers will be pleased.

“I think that they got the same reaction from their families, friends and customers that we do,” said Edwards, “that they don’t like that kind of packaging, they just don’t want us to use it.”


McDonald's Tosses Styrofoam Cups

McDonald&aposs has announced that all of its U.S. restaurants will switch to paper coffee cups, eliminating polystyrene or Styrofoam cups.

Polystyrene is heavily regulated in parts of California, and Mayor Bloomberg has sought to ban it from restaurants in New York City, which may have played a part in the burger giant&aposs decision to serve its coffee in double-walled paper cups instead.

“Moving to a paper-based cup across 14,000 restaurants translates to a significant impact,” reports Plastics News. “The reasons for this change include customers’ changing preferences and increased recyclability.”

Some paper cups are plastic-lined, and unable to be recycled, and there is no word of recycling receptacles or service being added to McDonald&aposs stores still, it&aposs a step in the right direction notes As You Sow, the nonprofit that pushed for the change.

"McDonald&aposs has made a great start by phasing out foam," said Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president for As You Sow, in a statement. "We hope they will also incorporate recycled fiber in the cups and develop on-site systems to collect and recycle food service packaging." With thousands of restaurants in the U.S. alone, proponents are calling this a huge move.

McDonald&aposs stopped using polystyrene containers for its sandwiches more than 20 years ago. Cold drinks, however will still be served in plastic cups for the time being.


McDonald's Ditching Styrofoam Cups for Paper - Recipes

McDonald's (MCD) has finally made a move to revolutionize its ubiquitous cup. It's testing ways to finally ditch the foamy polystyrene cups that have accompanied the company's McFare for ages.

The material has several problems -- it's not commonly recycled, and its main component, styrene, has been labeled a likely carcinogen by the National Institutes of Health.

And come on, foam is so old-school. McDonald's stopped using foam food containers for its products in 1990, but it has been slow in making similar progress with cups. And it's not like it would be that hard: Coffee giant Starbucks (SBUX) hasn't had trouble using paper cups in its business, after all.

Mickey D's will test new paper cups in 2,000 (15%) of its stores. Because paper cups can be recycled, McDonald's could greatly reduce its volume of waste byproducts by using recyclable for the billions and billions served by the fast-food giant.

These paper prototypes have another advantage. They will incorporate a "double-hulled" design to avoid an uncomfortable burning sensation from hot beverages.

Of course, McDonald's is concerned about burns: Over the past few decades, the company's been subject to numerous lawsuits from patrons scorched by hot coffee, and news of the latest lawsuits lodged came out this week.

McDonald's probably didn't just experience a sudden change of heart regarding its polystyrene use, though. Shareholder activist organization As You Sow has been pushing the fast-food giant to take a harder look at beverage containers and devise packaging recycling goals.

Happier Meals

Over the years, As You Sow has brought this issue to light at major companies like Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS), Starbucks, Yum! Brands (YUM), Coca-Cola (KO), and PepsiCo (PEP).

Gaining some traction at a massive company like McDonald's is a huge deal when it comes to improving practices all along consumption and supply chains. The Humane Society of America recently scored a victory when McDonald's pledged to engage with pork suppliers like Smithfield (SFD) about phasing out cruel gestation crates for breeding sows.

Big companies can make really big changes for the good when they put their ingenuity to the test. If McDonald's can get polystyrene out of the waste stream -- and enable more recycling of its food and beverage containers -- it could reduce a heck of a lot of wasteful pressure on the planet. That would create a much Happier Meal.

Motley Fool analyst Alyce Lomax owns shares of Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of Starbucks, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of McDonald's, Starbucks, Yum! Brands, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended writing covered calls on Starbucks and creating a diagonal call position in PepsiCo.


McDonald’s to eliminate foam drink cups from menu, work toward 'fiber-based packaging'

On Wednesday, McDonald’s announced that it would be eliminating foam packaging from its worldwide supply chain by the end of 2018, along with news that it plans to further its efforts to source its “fiber-based packaging” from recycled sources by 2020.

“While about 2 percent of our packaging, by weight, is currently foam, we believe this small step is an important one on our journey,” the company writes on its website.

The Chicago Tribune reported that this is the first time McDonald’s has committed to a specific deadline for removing polystyrene drink containers from its stores, after initially starting to phase out the material in 2013. The Tribune also estimated that the move would result in the eradication of “millions” of these drink containers — which do not biodegrade like paper cups — annually.

The chain had actually phased out polystyrene cups in the U.S. years ago, but brought them back in select markets, including Chicago, last year. McDonald’s still uses the foam cups in overseas markets.

The company’s decision to ditch its environmentally-unfriendly cups comes after an anti-polystyrene proposal filed by As You Sow, a corporate responsibility organization — earned 32 percent of shareholder votes in May 2017, according to the Environmental Leader.

“We do appreciate what McDonald’s has done,” said Conrad MacKerron, the senior vice president of As You Sow, in a statement to the Tribune. “It’s taken a long time, but better late than never.”

Polystyrene cups, while keeping drinks colder or hotter, do not biodegrade like paper materials, and

The news concerning McDonald’s cups comes nearly a year after the company announced plans to invest in sourcing more sustainably raised beef.


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Thinking ahead

Companies may be making changes now in anticipation of water shortages in the future.

As extreme weather becomes more common, companies are less able to predict how much water they'll be able to use in factories and other production facilities.

Businesses that don't reduce the amount of water they use now will suffer in dry years and have a hard time planning for the future. For example, a devastating water shortage in Cape Town, South Africa, has put nearly 49% of companies at risk of closure, according to a survey by the South African city's chamber of commerce.

Whelan suspects that fears of changes in the water supply may be why a company like Coke is starting to become more sustainable.

"The waste that comes from those bottles and the amount of water they use are becoming increasingly major risks," she said.


McDonald's tosses EPS cups and trays

McDonald's Corp. is ditching expanded polystyrene for good around the globe.

Just weeks after another call for the company to reconsider its use of EPS in cold beverage cups and trays, the Oakbrook, Ill.-based company now indicates foam products will be eliminated by the end of 2018.

News of the latest move comes after McDonald's transitioned from foam to paper coffee and hot beverage cups a few years ago.

As You Sow, a shareholders advocacy group interested in environmental issues, recently refiled a resolution asking the company to assess the impact of EPS. This same proposal received nearly one-third support from shareholders last year.

But McDonald's is tackling the issue before the matter can be put to shareholders at an upcoming annual meeting.

McDonald's EPS decision comes with a backdrop of a larger battle regarding the use of the material as municipalities debate the issue.

Industry forces call EPS recyclable and say the material is, indeed, recycled. But opponents say the material is just too difficult to handle or not recyclable on a large scale as a practical matter.

EPS, unlike its rigid PS cousin, is made up of about 98 percent air. It's light weight and bulk present recycling challenges compared to some other plastics.

But Dart Container Corp., for example, has been a strong advocate for EPS packaging and its recyclability. The company has offered to create a system to handle New York City's EPS, for example, in the face of Mayor Bill de Blasio push to outlaw the material's use in takeout food packaging.

Dart also has created a network of EPS recycling facilities in different parts of the country.

McDonald's, on the company's website, indicates "the environmental impact of our packaging is a top priority."

"We also plan to eliminate foam packaging from our global system by the end of 2018. While about 2 percent of our packaging, by weight, is currently foam, we believe this small step is an important one on our journey. These actions represent successes that will continue to raise the bar for our system and our industry," the company said.

Conrad MacKerron has been helping lead the fight against EPS use at McDonald's for As You Sow.

"This sends an important message to other quick service food companies who may still be using foam. We also hope McDonald's will next turn its attention to other single use items like plastic straws and cup lids that pose hazards to marine animals and add to the tsunami of plastic waste afflicting world oceans," he said in a statement.

While the merits of EPS use have been debated for years, it has only been recently that the use of plastic straws is coming into wider question by some.

Actiam, which describes itself as a "responsible fund and asset manager," and JLens, a network of Jewish faith-based investors, joined with As You Sow to file the earlier shareholders proposal. As You Sow indicated it will now withdraw the proposal.


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