Over the next seven years, McDonald's will not only convert all guest-facing packaging to renewable, recycled or certified sources, it will also lean toward a preference for packaging with Forest Stewardship Council certification, according to a company press release.
The chain said it wants to be "part of the solution" when it comes to the problem of excessive waste and its many environmental impacts globally, even though the laws around this issue vary widely from location to location.
The announcement is an expansion of the chain's previous goal of converting all of its fiber-based packaging to that sourced from recycled or certified sources where no deforestation occurs by 2020.
"As the world's largest restaurant company, we have a responsibility to use our scale for good to make changes that will have a meaningful impact across the globe," Chief Supply Chain and Sustainability Officer Francesca DeBiase, said in the release. "Our customers have told us that packaging waste is the top environmental issue they would like us to address. Our ambition is to make changes our customers want and to use less packaging, sourced responsibly and designed to be taken care of after use, working at and beyond our restaurants to increase recycling and help create cleaner communities."
The chain said it's working with leading expert on practices that will improve all company practices around its packaging and recycling, while also coming up with new ways to measure the impact of such actions and to develop ways to educate employees and customers on the issues.
"Smarter waste management begins with improved sourcing, increased value chain collaboration and better communication with customers," World Wildlife Fund Senior Vice President of Private Sector Engagement Sheila Bonini, said in the release. "Today's announcement demonstrates McDonald's strong leadership in developing packaging and recycling solutions at a scale that can extend the life of our natural resources and push its industry toward more sustainable practices."
McDonald's isn't new to the pursuit of waste reduction for reduced environmental impact as it first focused on sustainable packaging nearly 25 years ago by establishing a connection with the Environmental Defense Fund. That partnership helped eliminate more than 300 million pounds of packaging while sending a million tons of corrugated boxes, according to the release.
The impact was significant as the efforts resulted in a 30 percent reduction in waste in the decade following the partnership. More than three years ago, McDonald's began working with the World Wildlife Fund's Global Forest & Trade Network to establish fiber sourcing targets.
Today half of all McDonald's customer packaging comes from renewable, recycled or certified sources and 64 percent of fiber-based packaging comes from certified or recycled sources. Likewise, 10 percent of McDonald's restaurants globally are recycling customer packaging.
With 37,000 locations in more than100 countries, the impact of those efforts is significant.