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McDonald’s and Burger King introduce reusable packaging.

Image source: HAVI Logistics GmbH

McDonald’s and Burger King introduce reusable packaging.

Thomas Reiner | 09.03.2023

McDonald’s Germany has teamed up with logistics and supply chain company HAVI to develop a nationwide reusable packaging solution for its approximately 1,450 national restaurants. The reusable packaging is available for a deposit amount directly in the restaurant and can be returned in all German McDonald’s restaurants. Competitor Burger King has also launched a reusable system and has partnered with Recup to do so. We see: The regulations on the subject of reusables are having an effect – which is not always painless and not always successful. There are challenges, especially in the area of reverse logistics and consumer convenience.



In Germany, customers have been able to choose between disposable and deposit-refillable packaging for beverages and ice cream cups in all McDonald’s restaurants since the beginning of 2023. Drinks, milkshakes and ice cream have also been available in returnable deposit cups in Germany’s 750 Burger King stores since January 1.

In both cases, the deposit for the reusable packaging is added to the selling price of the food and refunded after it is returned.



The driving force behind the development is national legislation. In Germany, certain reusable obligations have applied in the catering trade and for take-away since January 1, 2023. For example, sales outlets would have to offer reusable packaging for their meals to go but above a certain minimum size.



  • At McDonald’s, the logistics and supply chain company HAVI manages the entire process from cup development to transport and return.
  • The returned cups are cleaned directly in the restaurants or by the recycling and service company Remondis and then returned to the system.
  • The cups can be returned at all McDonald’s restaurants in Germany.


Burger King

  • By choosing Recup, Burger King has opted for Germany’s currently largest reusable system for the catering industry.
  • From March to November 2022, Burger King had already tested the use of reusable beverage cups as part of a pilot project in selected restaurants in the Cologne area.
  • Burger King charges a deposit of one euro each for cups and lids. A beverage with a lid therefore incurs a total deposit of two euros.
  • For hygienic and resource-saving dishwashing directly in the restaurant, Burger King has been equipping its kitchens with dishwashers since the middle of the year.
  • The return and deposit refund is not only possible in every Burger King restaurant, but can also be made at one of the more than 16,500 Recup partners in Germany.


Pain Points

The obligation to offer reusable packaging in the catering and to-go sectors, which has been installed by German legislators since January 1, 2023, poses major challenges for the players.

This applies in particular to the area of reverse logistics – from reliable cleaning or disinfection to organization and management in the transport area. This is difficult to represent economically without appropriate partners.

Challenges also arise in the area of consumer convenience. This is because the various system and/or logistics partners each rely on their own systems. While this serves to promote customer loyalty and is to a certain extent “natural” in a system that thrives on competition. On the other hand, it is not practical in the long term because it makes things complex and complicated for consumers. An overarching, uniform return system would be much better in this respect – and would also contribute more to the underlying sustainability goals through increased acceptance and use.



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