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McDonald's USA Becomes First Restaurant Chain to Join GreenBlue's How2Recycle Label Program

Image credit: GreenBlue

GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) announced this week that McDonald’s USA is 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.

“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,” said 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.”

McDonald’s has taken steps to use more responsible packaging materials - in September, the company phased out polystyrene cups in favor of paper. Now, the fast-food chain joins over 20 companies in a variety of industries — including Kellogg, Target, Seventh Generation, Clorox, Esteé Lauder and Honest Tea — already using the label.

“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," said Susan Forsell, VP of Sustainability for McDonald’s USA.

Initially, McDonald’s will label its standard paper carryout bags with the “Widely Recycled” version of the How2Recycle Label, which indicates that at least 60 percent of the US population has access to recycle the packaging materials in question. The 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 unique 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 its Happy Meal boxes, which could help educate younger consumers about proper recycling techniques.


Jennifer Elks is Managing Editor at Sustainable Brands. She is a writer, editor and foodie who is passionate about improving food systems, closing loops and creating more livable cities. She loves cooking, wine, cooking with wine, correcting spelling errors in… [Read more about Jennifer Elks]


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