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McDonald’s Waste & Recycling Statistics

As one of the leaders in the fast-food industry, McDonald’s continuously improves its packaging sustainability to ensure brand resiliency and minimise its ecological footprint. Aside from that, the brand is taking an active role in communities to help sustain minimal footprint to conserve our resources for the younger generations.

Waste Recovery Strategy 

McDonald’s capitalises on its massive scale and influence to streamline its waste recovery solutions to keep waste out of landfills. The fast-food chain utilises advanced waste recovery and materials recycling throughout the value chain.

Sustainable Recycling and Packaging

When looking into product packaging, McDonald’s focuses on cutting its carbon footprint to a minimum. They also eye more sustainable materials for food packaging and Happy Meal toys to help consumers reuse and recycle their product packaging.

Waste Reduction Goals:

  • Utilise design innovation to introduce reliable solutions and influence behavioural changes to minimise waste.
  • Streamline renewable packaging and materials from recycled and certified sources without losing packaging performance and quality
  • Ensure scalability among sustainable options so global franchises can utilise the same materials and drive the demand for sustainable packaging and Happy Meal Toys

Combatting Plastic Pollution

While McDonald’s generally focuses on product packaging, its bespoke plastics strategy is designed to prevent packaging waste from piling up in landfills and bodies of water.

Besides, it’s almost a no-brainer that plastic packaging is crucial in the food industry to ensure product quality and safety. However, it doesn’t decompose easily. That’s why we brought together facts and figures from McDonald’s waste and recycling innovations that address this issue.

In 2020, McDonald’s uses fibre materials for about 78% of their packaging, while 22% use plastics.

Contributing to Sustainable Development Goals

One of McDonald’s primary efforts is actively supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG). These goals aim to put an end to global poverty, conserve our resources, and ensure the well-being of all, including:

Waste and Recycling Statistics

Plastic-Free Desserts

McDonald’s redesigned their McFlurry packaging to remove disposable plastic lids. The packaging decision is now in action across Australia, India, New Zealand, and most of the Asia Pacific and Europe.

McDonald’s franchises in Europe reduced their plastic use and managed to save about 1,200 metric tons of plastic annually. With that figure, many branches across Australia and the rest of the world are starting to follow suit and step away from disposable plastic cups.

Designing Strawless Beverage Lids

McDonald’s France is now innovating a new beverage lid developed from a natural fibre that replaces plastic lids and straws. By streamlining this across all branches in the country, McDonald’s expects to save more than 1,200 tons of straw and plastic lids annually.

Furthermore, McDonald’s China follows France’s steps in phasing out plastic straws for cold beverages across Shenzhen, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Beijing. With the fibre-based strawless beverage lid, Chinese franchises can save up to 400 metric tons of disposable plastic every year.

Revolutionising Plastic Cutlery

Back in France, McDonald’s kitchens shifted into wooden cutlery, complementing their innovative beverage packaging. As a result, McDonald’s restaurants in the country can save up to 2,600 metric tons, including the plastics saved from traditional beverage lids.

Optimising Packaging Size and Weight

Aside from the above facts and innovations, McDonald’s is also looking into revolutionary ways to optimise packaging weight and size. The following are a few facts and figures from McDonald’s restaurants across the world:

  • McDonald’s Canada now uses smaller napkins developed from 100% recycled fibre.
  • In Latin America, McDonald’s Arcos Dorados uses lightweight utensils and replaced their plastic packaging with fibre-based alternatives from certified sources.
  • McDonald’s Netherlands saved up to 250 metric tons of plastic packaging by switching to non-plastic alternatives.
  • Restaurants in Taiwan are adapting paper packaging and cutlery to reduce waste significantly.

Packaging Recovery and Recycling

Several McDonald’s restaurants now implement sorting and recycling bins across their top markets globally. Aside from that, they developed a more visible recycling bin signage to make sorting easier for guests and crews.

Since recycling facilities drastically vary from country to country and market to market, some restaurants coordinate with municipalities and waste collectors, such as Paul’s Rubbish Removal.

Maintaining Clean Communities

Globally, McDonald’s plays an active role in local cleanup drives to keep suburbs and communities free of harmful rubbish. For instance, McDonald’s Belgium recently streamlined a Garbage; We Take it Personally campaign 一 aiming to reduce local litter by up to 20% in the last quarter of 2030.

On the other hand, McDonald’s Netherlands launched a You Bin It, You Win It campaign last 2020 that awards customers who properly dispose of their rubbish in the restaurant. 

Finally, McDonald’s Switzerland also established a joint cleanup day the previous year, hosting a cleanup drive across nine cities to organise litter prevention.


McDonald’s proactive litter prevention methods and innovative packaging designs can go a long way in helping them contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Aside from corporate-level decisions, customers and guests can also contribute to the general agenda through household recycling and other small yet significant habits.

When it comes to removing residential and commercial rubbish, teaming up with a time-tested and reliable rubbish removal company goes a long way.

Sarah Ann

Sarah Ann

Sarah Ann is a Digital Content Writer for Paul's Rubbish Removal. Sarah is a huge advocate for recycling, environmental sustainability, health and well-being and has a genuine love for all sea animals. Keep up with Sarah by following Paul's Rubbish Removal blog!

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