, Australia

McDonald's completes transition to fibre-based straws, cutlery

The fast food chain expects the move to remove 868 metric tonnes of plastic annually from restaurants in Australia, including over 512 million plastic straws.

McDonald’s confirmed the completion of its nationwide transition from plastic straws and cutlery to fibre-based alternatives, announced at last year’s National Plastics Summit at Parliament House Canberra.

The fast food giant expects the step to remove 868 metric tonnes of plastic annually from McDonald’s restaurants in Australia, including over 512 million plastic straws.

“Removing more than 1,000 metric tonnes of plastic from our system is a pivotal step in our journey to reduce packaging waste and increase recycling within our restaurants,” McDonald’s Australia director of sustainability and supply chain Kylie Freeland said in a media release. “We’re proud to have completed this transition and look forward to trialling further sustainability innovations throughout 2021 to identify commercially-practical solutions that will have a positive impact on the community.”

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley lauded McDonald’s on its pledge.

“This is about stepping up and delivering on commitments, and showing that we can all play a role in reducing waste and helping our environment,” Minister Ley said.

“Australians use 3.4 million tonnes of single use plastics a year and McDonald’s initiative reminds us that there are happier alternatives that can make a real difference.”

McDonald’s also announced it will trial to recycle guest packaging back into its own fibre-based takeout carry bags, in a bid to create a “full sustainability loop.”

Starting in March, the trial will be conducted at its new sustainability innovation hub, Restaurant 1000, in Melton South, Victoria.

“Our guest packaging recycling trial is the first of its kind for the quick service restaurant industry in Australia and will help guide our strategy to divert 100% of front-of-house waste from landfill,” Freeland said.

“The trial will enable us to learn quickly and identify responsible solutions we hope will help address the packaging recycling infrastructure challenges faced by many Australian food service businesses.”

Designed in partnership with Detpak, the guest packaging recycling trial builds on the 25 core sustainability initiatives at Restaurant 1000, including: Happy Meal toy recycling; the use of recycled materials in the building, including car stops, curbs and PlayPlace; and bulk oil and milk supply systems that remove the need for cardboard and plastic packaging.

“Doing our bit for the environment is important to all of us at McDonald’s. In addition to investing in commercially-practical products and practices that will reduce our environmental footprint, we also strive to reduce litter in the communities we operate in. As a founding partner of Clean Up Australia Day, we’ll have teams from restaurants across Australia out in force on Sunday March 7,” Freeland concluded.

McDonald’s is offering free delivery nationwide via Menulog’s app and website this week, according to a separate announcement from the delivery platform.

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