The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presented USA with its WasteWise Partner of the Year award, in recognition of its ongoing commitment to significant solid waste reduction.

The EPA cited McDonald’s industry-leading recycling track record and its continual review and evaluation of packaging materials, with an eye on always trying to find the most efficient materials available.

The award was given at the EPA’s 2000 WasteWise Awards and Recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

“McDonald’s commitment to environmental leadership is a cornerstone of our core value of giving back to the communities in which we do business,” said Jack Greenberg, McDonald’s Chairman and CEO. “McDonald’s will continue to work with the EPA, the Environmental Defense and other environmental experts to keep us on the cutting edge of environmental stewardship.”

McDonald’s led the way in the Buy Recycled initiative by purchasing more than 300,000 tons of paper products made from recycled materials in 1999 alone. McDonald’s is constantly reducing the weight, volume and environmental impact of its packaging materials and exploring new packaging alternatives.

The U.S. EPA cited some examples of McDonald’s leadership in this area as follows:

• Conserved 3,200 tons of paper and cardboard by eliminating sandwich containers, and replacing them with single-layer flexible sandwich wraps.

• By switching to lighter drink cups, McDonald’s eliminated 1,100 tons of cardboard materials that would have been used for shipping.

• Spent more than $355 million on recycled-content products. This included the purchase of nearly 100,000 tons of paper made from recycled office paper waste.

“McDonald’s led the way again in 1999 in promoting the ”buy recycled” message by purchasing more than $300 million worth of products made from recycled materials,” said Elizabeth Cotsworth, director for the U.S. EPA Office of Solid Waste. “To inspire other organizations to follow their lead, WasteWise featured McDonald’s as a panelist in the 1999 WasteWise ‘Buy Recycled’ national satellite forum. Since they joined WasteWise in 1994, McDonald’s has demonstrated every year its commitment to solid waste reduction.”

Last December, McDonald’s Corporation and the Environmental Defense marked the tenth anniversary of their groundbreaking alliance. Over the past ten years, that partnership has resulted in dozens of major environmental initiatives, including McDonald’s move to unbleached paper carry-out bags, replacing polystyrene foam sandwich clamshells with paper wraps and light-weight recycled boxes.

In the past ten years, McDonald’s has:

• Eliminated 150,000 tons of McDonald’s packaging through redesigning or reducing the amount of materials used to make straws, napkins, sandwich packaging, cups, French fry containers and other items.

• Purchased more than $3 billion in products made from recycled materials for use in McDonald’s restaurants.

• Recycled more than one million tons of corrugated cardboard, the most commonly used material for shipping products to McDonald’s 12,500 restaurants, reducing restaurant waste by 30%.

• McDonald’s also committed to energy conservation efforts by installing energy-efficient lights in the restaurants, and testing five state-of-the-art energy efficient restaurants in the U.S. that achieved a 10-15% reduction in energy use. McDonald’s has an overarching goal of reducing energy use by 10% in its restaurants.

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