Fast-food chain McDonald's will help customers cut waste by offering a durable cup created by reusable packaging specialists Loop


McDonald's says the reusable packaging model marks “significant progress” towards innovative circular packaging solutions helping to protect the planet (Credit: Pixabay)

McDonald’s has announced it will be piloting a reusable packaging programme in the UK with a focus on hot drinks.

Launching in 2021, it’s part of its global partnership with waste management company TerraCycle’s circular packaging service, Loop.

The international fast-food business says the model marks “significant progress” towards innovative circular packaging solutions helping to protect the planet.

The McDonald’s Corporation’s vice president of global sustainability, Jenny McColloch, said: “We’re on a journey to rethink how we package products to give customers options that reduce waste, maintain the highest safety standards, and enhance the McDonald’s experience they expect and enjoy.

“That’s an innovation challenge, and it’s one we think the Loop model has the potential to help us solve.

“Our commitment to communities is one of our core values as a company, and this pilot will generate important local insights and lessons to share along the way.

“We’re excited to assess how new reusable packaging models could work within our system as we accelerate circular packaging solutions with our partners around the globe.”


How will McDonald’s reusable packaging work?

The new partnership will allow customers to cut waste by choosing a Loop-created durable cup for a small deposit.

This deposit can be redeemed by returning the cup to a participating McDonald’s UK restaurant, where it can be safely washed and reused.

Loop’s cleaning systems meet McDonald’s cleanliness standards and have been scientifically developed in partnership with hygiene specialist Ecolab.

TerraCycle and Loop CEO Tom Szaky said: “This groundbreaking partnership with McDonald’s enables Loop to greatly expand its reach by bringing convenient reusable packaging options to the foodservice industry.

“The partnership paves the way for reusables to become an accessible option for consumers as they enjoy their meal on the go.”

McDonald's reusable packaging
McDonald’s partnership with Loop also builds on the fast-food chain’s progress to recycle paper cups in multiple markets (Credit: Pixabay)

McDonald’s work with Loop aligns with the company’s continued investment in testing and scaling circular solutions for cups around the world.

These include the Recup system in Germany, as well as the exploration of fully recoverable hot and cold fibre cups and reusable systems through a partnership with the NextGen Cup Challenge in the US.

The NextGen Cup Challenge is a global design competition set up by a consortium involving Starbucks and McDonald’s to identify innovative, alternative cup solutions.

McDonald’s partnership with Loop builds on the chain’s progress that it has made to recycle paper cups — with almost all of its restaurants in the UK having recycling units for hot and cold paper cups.

 Through its membership of the UK Paper Cup Coalition, McDonald’s has invested in a scheme run by environmental compliance organisation Valpak, which incentivises more waste companies to collect paper cups for recycling.

Commenting on McDonald’s’ partnership with Loop, charity the World Wildlife Fund’s head of plastic and business, Erin Simon, said: “If we’re going to curb plastic waste crisis we need to invest in data-driven strategies that reduce our demand for virgin plastic.

“For McDonald’s and the larger food and beverage sector, reuse will be one component of any reduction strategy.

“As a society, we need to ensure the plastics we use today are the plastic we’ll be able to use again in the future.”