50% recycled, 50% bio-based: McDonald’s tests new plastic cups

Image source: Visual Karsa, Unsplash

50% recycled, 50% bio-based: McDonald’s tests new plastic cups

Thomas Reiner | 10.06.2022

McDonald’s is testing clear plastic cups made from PCR and bio-based materials in select U.S. restaurants. According to the company, the new cups are recyclable and externally indistinguishable from previous cups. The fast-food company’s new project is an interesting approach to the circular economy. It combines customer preferences with promising circular economy solutions, thus matching sustainability and market performance.


The new plastic cup is the result of a collaboration with Pactiv Evergreen, INEOS, Neste and LyondellBasell. The pilot project involves the deployment of the new solution in 28 selected restaurants in Savanah, Georgia. The test run is being overseen and managed by McDonald’s long-time supply chain partner HAVI and its subsidiary “The Marketing Store” (TMS).


Big Picture McDonald’s

The new project joins a series of tests McDonald’s has conducted in recent years to make its packaging more sustainable. Cups are the focus here. By 2025, the fast-food company aims to make 100 percent of its packaging from renewable, recycled or certified materials. To accompany and facilitate the transition, the company has been relying on its “Better M” hub for several years. There, interested parties can view and read all the facts surrounding McDonald’s commitment to quality.


The new cup: focus on the cycle

  • 50 percent post-consumer plastics
  • 50 percent bio-based materials. In addition to biomass from renewable sources such as plants, used cooking oil from McDonald’s restaurants is also used to produce the cup plastic.
  • Practical recyclability. According to McDonald’s, the cups will be recycled after use, increasing the supply of PCR material for use in other products.
    • The lids and straws of the new cups are currently not recyclable.
    • McDonald’s advises its customers to rinse the cups after use and then dispose of them via a recycling bin.


The new cup: focus on customers

  • Transparent cups are popular with consumers. So it’s smart and logical that McDonald has pushed its new solution in that direction. The new solution doesn’t sacrifice the customer experience.
  • According to McDonald’s, the look and feel of the new cup is no different from the solutions it has used in the past.


Circular economy and market performance

Circular economy solutions are becoming increasingly significant on the path to achieving sustainability goals. In plastics, post-consumer recycled materials are a key element as they offer tremendous leverage.

It’s smart and promising that McDonalds is not only focusing on circular economy and sustainability in its new solution, but also keeping the preferences of its customers at the center of its development.

Because at the end of the day, sustainable solutions can only become sustainably successful and impactful to the bottom line if market performance is also ensured.

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