McDonald’s to trial deposit return scheme for coffee cups in Northampton

Customers using the restaurants or Drive-Thru can pay a £1 deposit that is redeemed if they return the cup to a participating McDonald’s UK restaurant

In September 2020, McDonald’s launched a new global partnership to utilise the Loop collection model from TerraCycle that will see reusable and returnable cups trialed to cut back on single-use plastics.

The company has this week confirmed that restaurants in St James’ Retail Park, Riverside Retail Park, The Derry and Weston Favell Shopping Centre, While in Wellingborough it’s the London Road and Wilby Way Roundabout stores, all located near Northampton, will trial this new system.

Customers using the restaurants or Drive-Thru can pay a £1 deposit that is redeemed if they return the cup to a participating McDonald’s UK restaurant so that it can be washed and sanitised to be reused again. Those that do will receive 20p off their next medium hot drink order.

McDonald’s vice president for supply chain and brand trust Beth Hart said: “As a business McDonald’s is on a journey to revolutionise the way we package products to give customers the sustainable solutions they want. This partnership builds on our packaging and recycling strategy, which switches to more sustainable materials and aims to help our customers to recycle and reuse.

“We want to help customers to save more and waste less. So, to help do our collective bit in reducing the amount of single-use coffee cups going to recycling or landfill, customers can now choose a returnable hot drink cup through the Drive-thru, kiosks and front counter in these restaurants – and save money in the process.”

The cups are made from previous single-use coffee cups by circular design brand Circular&Co.

Plastics account for just 12% of McDonald’s packaging in Europe and 60% of its restaurants in its eight largest European markets provide recycling for consumers – in the UK this reaches 90%. McDonald’s has a target in place to recycle consumer packaging in 100% of its restaurants globally by 2025.

Late last year, McDonald’s launched a range of trials and pilots to remove single-use plastics and improve recyclability, including the removal of plastic McFlurry lids across Europe, the introduction of renewable fibre lids in France and a toy take-back scheme in the UK.

McDonald’s is one of many corporates to sign up to the Loop zero-waste platform that enables shoppers to purchase refillable versions of food and drink, health and beauty and cleaning products online. Brands signed up in the UK include Heinz, Coca-Cola, Sky, Tesco, Unilever, Danone and Nivea.

Talk about change

In related news, McDonald’s UK has partnered with The Prince’s Countryside Fund to launch a new guide to help farmers and suppliers discuss the issues and challenges regarding climate change.

The “farmer’s guide to breaking free from environmental jargon” was launched at an event attended by HRH The Prince of Wales, Founder and Patron of The Prince’s Countryside Fund. Based on conversations with farmers, the guide translates 50 sustainability terms into language which is more accessible.

Ahead of the launch of the guide, HRH The Prince of Wales, Founder and Patron of The Prince’s Countryside Fund said to The Telegraph: “Everyone needs to play their part in helping to protect the planet and tackle climate change, but to do so we need to share the same goals and speak the same language. That’s why I am delighted that this guide helps to translate terminology and unjumble jargon so farmers, and all of us, can play our part.”

It is the latest farmer-based initiative from the company. McDonald’s is working with McCain on a “Sustainable MacFries Fund” to support British potato farmers to use new techniques and technology that will improve soil quality and water management. 

McDonald’s and McCain are providing £1m in grants to growers. Farmers will be educated and trained in improving soil structure while using new infiltration tines for MacFry planters. The technology will increase the uptake of water in both the soil and roots.

Further afield, McDonald’s is also partnering with the Walmart Foundation and Cargill to invest $6m to improve grasslands of the Northern Great Plains in the US.

The Ranch Systems and Viability Planning (RSVP) network will be led by WWF and will support ranchers in Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota to improve grazing practices that improve the health of the land.

The partnership will aim to improve land management across one million acres over the next five years in an effort to improve carbon storage and sequestration, increase water infiltration and better outcomes for biodiversity.

Matt Mace

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