While our primary focus is on waste reduction, we continue to seek ways to incorporate reuse and recycling into our restaurant operations.
One of the biggest challenges to recycling for McDonald’s, and the food industry as a whole, is that food packaging is not widely accepted by recyclers. As a result, the majority of our recycling currently happens behind the front counter, and that’s where we see the greatest opportunity for continued improvement.
Today, many of the restaurants in our nine largest markets recycle corrugated cardboard and used cooking oil in the course of normal restaurant operations. This can have a big environmental impact because these two items can represent nearly 35% of the total waste (by volume) generated by an average restaurant. To put this in perspective, the average U.S. company-owned restaurant recycles more than 17 tons of corrugated cardboard per year and approximately 13,000 pounds of used cooking oil per year.