McDonald's to start testing reusable cups

The burger giant has a partnership with packaging service Loop to start using reusable cups in the U.K. starting next year.
McDonald's reusable cups
Photo courtesy of McDonald's

McDonald’s on Wednesday said it would start testing a reusable cup in some U.K. restaurants next year as part of a global partnership with the recycling company TerraCycle’s Loop service.

The service will enable customers to choose a durable Loop-created cup for a small deposit. The deposit can be redeemed by returning the cup to participating restaurants to be washed through the Loop cleaning system and be reused again.

The partnership is part of McDonald’s effort to increase its use of reusable cups around the globe, and follows a similar program in Germany called the “Recup” system. In the U.S., McDonald’s is part of the NextGen Cup Challenge along with the Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks. That effort is designed to find a fiber takeout cup that is recoverable and to test reusable cup systems.

The Chicago-based burger giant has been working to develop more sustainable packaging in recent years as it has sought ways to increase the sustainability of its packaging. The company’s goal is to source all of its packaging from recycling or certified sources and recycle packaging at all of its restaurants by 2025.

McDonald's says it has made progress to recycle paper cups in many of its global markets, including the U.K., which has recycling units for hot and cold cups in nearly all of its restaurants there.

The Loop pilot project, starting at some select locations in the U.K., is designed to generate insights to assess how reusable packaging models can work in the McDonald’s system, Jenny McColloch, vice president of global sustainability for McDonald’s, said in a statement.

Loop features a cleaning system designed to ensure the cups are as safe to use as single-use cups. The Loop’s cleaning system was developed with Ecolab. “This groundbreaking partnership with McDonald’s enables Loop to greatly expand its reach by bringing convenient reusable packaging options to the foodservice industry,” Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle and Loop, said in a statement.

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