McDonald’s is making a big change to its packaging

The company is vowing to use nothing but renewable or recyclable packaging by 2025.

McDonald’s is going green.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based burger giant on Tuesday vowed to use only packaging from renewable, recyclable or “certified” sources by 2025. The company also said it would recycle customers’ packaging in all of its 37,000 global locations by that same year.

The vow comes just days after the company said it would stop using foam for its cold beverage cups and trays this year. It’s also an expansion of its previously stated goal to use nothing but fiber-based packaging for its cups, burger wrappings, fry boxes and other containers by 2020.

“Our customers have told us that packaging waste is the top environmental issue they would like to address,” Francesca DeBiase, McDonald’s chief supply chain and sustainability officer, said in a statement.

Currently, half of McDonald’s consumer packaging comes from renewable, recycled or certified sources, and 64% of its fiber-based packaging comes from certified or recycled sources.

An estimated 10% of the chain’s restaurants are recycling customer packaging.

McDonald’s has been working to improve its image in recent years as part of an effort to build long-term sales growth. It has removed antibiotics from its chicken, for instance, and has vowed to use nothing but cage-free eggs. Both moves helped spur the restaurant industry to make similar pledges with its own supply chains.

In the recycling commitment, McDonald’s says it “understands that recycling infrastructure, regulations and consumer behaviors vary city to city and country to country,” but that it “plans to be part of the solution and help influence powerful change.”

The company said it prefers to use packaging that has been certified as coming from sustainable sources by the Forest Stewardship Council, a nonprofit organization that works to protect the world’s forests.

McDonald’s also said it would work with local governments, experts and environmental groups to improve its packaging and recycling processes.

The company first used a partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund to eliminate more than 300 million pounds of packaging, recycle more boxes and reduce waste by 30%. McDonald’s joined the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Forest & Trade Network in 2014, the year it set its initial 2020 fiber-based packaging goal.  

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Wonder bets meal kits aren't dead yet

Tech Check: By acquiring the struggling Blue Apron, the restaurant delivery concept believes it can touch more dining occasions. But will it work?


Demand for chicken takes Huey Magoo's to new heights

Longtime chicken executive Andy Howard saw something in the tiny Florida chain more than five years ago. It is now one of the fastest growing concepts in the country.


Stake your claim to the low-price market at your own risk

The Bottom Line: Subway and Burger King have staked their claims as value leaders in their respective segments. Recent events have highlighted the difficulties of that position.


More from our partners