McDonald's customer spots huge change rolling out to restaurants

An eco-friendly initiative is appearing at more Macca's outlets.

McDonald's has stunned fans by quietly introducing reusable containers in some of its restaurants, with a photo of the new planet-friendly packaging racking up thousands of reactions online.

Dine-in customers in some US restaurants will now be served their meals in the reusable containers, which customers later bring to a designated return point for them to be washed, sanitised and made ready for the next diner.

Return tub for McDonald's reusable containers
A snap of McDonald's reusable dine-in packaging has generated over 2,400 comments from intrigued Reddit users. Source: Reddit/ADerpyHuman

McDonald's packaging has long been made of paper and cardboard but because this is usually contaminated with food scraps, it can't be recycled without being cleaned first. This means that the vast majority of the fast-food chain's consumer waste ends up in landfill, on the side of the road or in our oceans.

The new packaging first made headlines late last year after French President Emmanuel Macron retweeted a snap from a Macca's restaurant in France. "The anti-waste law is not only the end of plastic straws," Mr Macron tweeted. "Look around you: in France, we are making changes to our consumption patterns and reducing our waste. We are pushing to do it globally. Let's change the situation!"

Reporting at the time suggested the sustainable containers were a response to new EU legislation requiring all fast-food packaging be reusable or recyclable by the year 2030, but the fact the new containers are now showing up at McDonald's restaurants in the United States suggests it could be part of a broader shift.

McDonald's says they're targeting 100% recycled or renewable customer packaging by the end of 2025, while seeking to "drastically reduce" the use of virgin fossil-fuel based plastics in their Happy Meal toys.

According to Takeaway Packaging UK, a business-to-business provider of eco-friendly cardboard packaging, McDonald's restaurants around the world collectively produce around three tonnes of waste every minute. In Australia alone, Macca's sold $1.1 billion worth of food and drinks in 2020 - that's the equivalent of 185 million boxed Big Macs, or 325 million individually wrapped Cheeseburgers.

McDonald's Australia has been approached for information about when Aussies are likely to see reusable containers in local Macca's restaurants.

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