Six McDonald’s restaurants in Northampton, and the surrounding area, have been chosen to pilot an innovative sustainability project for the company. In partnership with Loop, a global reuse platform, McDonald’s is launching returnable coffee cups on the menu, an option designed to help customers save more and waste less.
Customers pay a £1 deposit to get their hot drink in a returnable Loop cup, which helps reduce the volume of single-use coffee cups going to recycling or landfill. And as a thank-you they will receive a 20p discount on their purchase.
Once enjoyed, customers simply return the cup to one of the specific Loop branded collection bins set up at participating restaurants, for it to be sent for cleaning and to be used again. They will receive 20p off their next medium hot drink order – meaning that after just five returns and subsequent orders, customers will break even and will continue to receive 20p off every time they pick a Loop cup. If a customer forgets their cup at their next visit they can pay another £1 deposit and return both cups next time.
The cups are made from previous single use coffee cups by circular design brand Circular&Co. The cups include engineered polypropylene (PP) plastic as this is durable and easily cleaned, but the amount of plastic has been reduced by using recycled paper cup material in the outer insulation layer. When the reusable cups eventually reach their end of life usage they are recycled with the resulting material being used to make the next batch of reusable cups.
Once collected at the restaurants for cleaning the cups are sent to Loop’s local bespoke cleaning facility which was built in conjunction with industry experts EcoLab and DHL. Here the cups are cleaned and prepared for refill through protected clean hygiene zones, ensuring total separation. Loop scientifically assesses the cleanliness of the containers after each washing and drying cycle and only when the cups are perfectly clean are they approved for release and repacked to be reused again and again.
Over the last few years McDonald’s has saved more than 4000 tonnes of plastic every year by removing plastic Happy Meal toys and by switching from plastic straws, McFlurry lids and salad boxes to more sustainable options. Almost 90% of its packaging comes from recycled or renewable sources and the brand is working to increase that number. The restaurants also plan to move away from plastic wherever possible and, where it does need to use it for safety or functional reasons, it will only use 100% recycled or plant-based plastics. All packaging materials will also be fully recyclable or compostable, eliminating waste which must go to landfill.