McDonald’s to publish “first-in-sector” report on reusable packaging


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 $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 utilise 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 dialogue after filing, As You Sow says McDonald’s attested to its commitment to exploring reusable packaging as part of its broader commitments to more sustainable materials for packaging, toys and waste reduction, and shared its plans to publish a comprehensive study in early 2024.

We commend McDonald’s for committing to the exploration of a more circular future for quick-service restaurant dining.

Following engagement, As You Sow continues that McDonald’s agreed to include in its report an assessment of what opportunities and risks “full-scale” reuse poses to the industry and the environment.

The non-profit foundation says the fast food chain also agreed that the report will include how “full-scale” reuse is influenced by the System Change Scenario proposed in the Breaking the Plastic Wave report, where eight complementary interventions must be implemented to achieve an 80% cut in plastic pollution by 2040, including reducing growth in plastic use by at least 1/3.

The report may include possible new actions and potential goal frameworks for McDonald’s on reusables.

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

“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.”

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