GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition announced that McDonald’s USA will be the newest participant in its How2Recycle Label Program. A member of the SPC since 2005, McDonald’s is the first national restaurant chain to join How2Recycle, a program dedicated to clearly and consistently communicating recyclability to the public.


McDonald’s takes packaging sustainability into consideration at several steps in its supply chain, from responsible forestry and fiber sourcing to using recycled materials in production. McDonald’s use of the How2Recycle Label demonstrates the company’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact and promoting sustainable behaviors by clearly articulating to customers end-of-use packaging options.


“McDonald’s is committed to reducing waste. Labeling our packaging with SPC’s How2Recycle label provides an opportunity to extend the behind-the-counter recycling efforts at the restaurant by helping consumers to determine how to recycle some McDonald's packaging at home," says Susan Forsell, VP, sustainability for McDonald’s USA.


Initially, McDonald’s will label their standard paper carryout bags with the “Widely Recycled” version of the How2Recycle Label. The “Widely Recycled” label indicates that at least 60 percent of the U.S. population has access to recycle the particular packaging materials used.


The McDonald’s carryout bags will include the additional message, “Recycle if Clean & Dry,” since bags dirtied by a significant amount of grease or food residue are often not accepted in recycling programs. The How2Recycle Label requires that all components of a package be labeled–for consistency and transparency–and that extra messaging be used for packages that could contaminate the recycling stream due to consumer actions or additional packaging components.


McDonald’s is also exploring the use of the How2Recycle Label on other packaging, including the Happy Meal box which could help educate younger consumers about proper recycling techniques.


The company has also been involved in the SPC’s Foodservice Packaging Industry Leadership Committee that focuses on design and recovery opportunities to make foodservice packaging more sustainable. Additionally, the SPC and McDonald’s both collaborate with the leading trade association in this field, the Foodservice Packaging Institute, FPI.


“The participation of McDonald’s in the SPC’s projects has been invaluable in identifying best practices, understanding design, and generating efforts for post-consumer foodservice packaging recovery,” says Anne Bedarf, GreenBlue senior manager. “We’re thrilled to have McDonald’s lead the way for quick service restaurants in promoting packaging sustainability; their size, influence, and commitment is substantial, and we couldn’t be happier to have them on board.”

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