LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - McDonald's Corp said on Tuesday (Jan 16) that it is responding to customers' No. 1 request by setting goals for switching to environmentally friendly packaging materials and offering recycling in all of its restaurants.
"We have a responsibility to use our scale for good to make changes that will have a meaningful impact across the globe," said Ms Francesca DeBiase, McDonald's chief supply chain and sustainability officer.
The world's biggest restaurant chain will aim to get 100 per cent of its packaging from renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025, with a preference for Forest Stewardship Council certification, which ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests.
Currently, half of McDonald's customer packaging comes from renewable, recycled or certified sources, and 64 per cent of fibre-based packaging comes from certified or recycled sources.
The company will also make recycling available in all of its restaurants by 2025, up from around 10 per cent today.
Last week, McDonald's said it would eliminate foam packaging from its global supply chain by the end of this year.
Recycling infrastructure, regulations and consumer behaviours vary city to city and country to country around the world, said Ms DeBiase. She said that McDonald's will work with industry experts, local governments and environmental groups to improve packaging designs, create new recycling programmes, set progress benchmarks and educate its employees and customers.
"These goals have the potential to be transformational because no other restaurant has the scope and global supply chain of McDonald's," said Mr Tom Murray, vice-president of corporate partnerships at the Environmental Defence Fund, which is one of McDonald's partners on the waste reduction and recycling initiative.
Such efforts are good for the environment and for the bottom line, said Mr Murray. "When McDonald's began their waste reduction efforts nearly 30 years ago, the business and environmental benefits were immediate: the company saved an estimated US$6 million a year."
McDonald's also has used its large size and global reach to fight the rise of dangerous, antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as "superbugs".
Scientists and public health experts warn that using medically important antibiotics to prevent disease and speed up growth in healthy animals fuels the development of those potentially deadly bacteria.
In 2015, McDonald's was the first global fast-food chain to commit to eliminating the use of those drugs from its US chicken supply chain, a move that prompted most of its rivals and most major chicken suppliers to follow suit.