McDonald’s has implemented reusable packaging in France to comply with a new law, though this strategy is not yet in place in the franchise’s other locations.

As You Sow, an advocacy nonprofit, has advocated successfully for McDonald’s to evaluate its use of plastic packaging by publishing a comprehensive study by early 2024.

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McDonald’s currently complies with a new French law requiring all on-site dining to utilize reusable packaging, yet has no public plans to expand the packaging to the United States. In light of new laws in the U.S. taxing corporations for single-use packaging to, in part, address the plastic pollution crisis, As You Sow filed the resolution to encourage McDonald’s to evaluate how the expansion of reusable packaging could benefit the company from reputational, financial, and environmental perspectives.

In dialogue between As You Sow and McDonald’s after filing, the company attested to its commitment to exploring reusable packaging as part of its broader commitments to more sustainable materials for packaging, toys and waste reduction, and shared its plans to publish a comprehensive study in early 2024.

Following engagement with As You Sow, McDonald’s agreed to include in its report an assessment of what opportunities and risks full-scale reuse poses to the industry and the environment and how this is influenced by the System Change Scenario proposed in the groundbreaking Breaking the Plastic Wave report, whereby eight complementary interventions must be implemented to achieve an 80% cut in plastic pollution by 2040, including reducing growth in plastic use by at least 1/3. The report may include possible new actions and potential goal frameworks for McDonald’s on reusables.

Food Industry Executive, March 16, 2023.

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