McDonald's is falling short on recycling in one massive way -- here's how it's changing that fact

  • McDonald’s plans to add recycling to its more than 36,000 locations around the world by 2025.
  • Customers today can recycle at only about 10% of the fast-food chain’s locations.
  • McDonald’s also says it is switching to packaging made with renewable, recycled, or certified materials.
  • “As the world’s largest restaurant company, we have the opportunity – and frankly responsibility – to use our scale for good,” the company’s chief supply chain and sustainability officer told Business Insider.

McDonald’s just announced two major sustainability commitments.

On Tuesday, the fast-food chain announced plans to make recycling an option at all of its restaurants globally by 2025. Today, roughly 10% of the more than 36,000 McDonald’s locations allow people to recycle.

The chain is also pledging that by 2025 all packaging on customer products will come from “renewable or recycled sources,” or sources certified by the environmental organisations Forest Stewardship Council or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.

“As the world’s largest restaurant company, we have the opportunity – and frankly responsibility – to use our scale for good,” Francesca DeBiase, the company’s chief supply chain and sustainability officer, told Business Insider.

According to DeBiase, the more difficult of the two new sustainability pledges will be the introduction of a recycling option at all locations. Because of differing local regulations – including some regions that lack the necessary infrastructure – DeBiase says, adding recycling globally is a multiyear effort.

“Working with different municipalities to put the infrastructure in place is going to be the most complex piece of work that we do,” DeBiase said.

The new sustainability efforts follow McDonald’s announcement that it will ditch foam cold-beverage cups and trays. The company also recently announced plans to use 100% recycled fibre-based packaging globally by 2020.

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