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McDonald's announces global goals for recycling, packaging

McDonald's Corp. on Jan. 16 announced plans to offer recycling for customers in all of its more than 37,000 stores worldwide by 2025.

The fast-food giant also wants to obtain all of its guest packaging from renewable, recycled or certified sources. McDonald's will favor Forest Stewardship Council certification, which ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests.

"Our customers have told us that packaging waste is the top environmental issue they would like us to address. Our ambition is to make changes our customers want and to use less packaging sourced responsibly and designed to be taken care of after use, working at and beyond our restaurants to increase recycling and help create cleaner communities," said Francesca DeBiase, McDonald's chief supply chain and sustainability officer.

Half of McDonald's packaging now comes from renewable, recycled or certified sources and 64% of fiber-based packaging is from recycled or certified sources, the company said. Additionally, about 10% of restaurants globally recycle customer packaging.

Environmental group leaders praised the announcement in the statement McDonald's released.

"Smarter waste management begins with improved sourcing, increased value chain collaboration and better communication with customers. Today's announcement demonstrates McDonald's strong leadership in developing packaging and recycling solutions at a scale that can extend the life of our natural resources and push its industry toward more sustainable practices," said Sheila Bonini, senior vice president of private sector engagement for the World Wildlife Fund, or WWF.

McDonald's began its focus on sustainable packaging nearly 25 years ago when it first partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund on an initiative that eliminated more than 300 million pounds of packaging, recycled 1 million tons of corrugated boxes and reduced waste by 30% in the following decade. In 2014, the company joined the WWF's Global Forest & Trade Network program and set a 2020 goal of obtaining all packaging made of wood fiber from sources where no deforestation occurs.

In 2015, McDonald's signed the Obama administration's "American Business Act on Climate Pledge" and listed a wide range of environmental goals, including using sustainable sources in its supply chain, increasing energy efficiency, seeking out renewable energy sources and increasing in-restaurant recycling.