McDonald's saves billions cutting waste


In the late 1980s, McDonald’s faced public pressure to reduce its packaging and waste. But the visible waste – including foam "clamshells" protecting every burger – was only a small part of the story. Nearly 80 percent of McDonald’s waste was generated behind the counter, in food prep and supply systems.


McDonald’s and EDF began a groundbreaking partnership to reduce McDonald’s solid waste. The project team analyzed McDonald’s U.S. operations, including restaurants, distribution centers and suppliers. We set out to help them find ways to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as they could.


Over the next decade, McDonald’s eliminated more than 300 million pounds of packaging including the polystyrene clamshells, recycled 1 million tons of corrugated boxes and reduced restaurant waste by 30 percent. As a result of these and other changes, McDonald’s saves an estimated $6 million per year.

Lasting impact

Since EDF helped launch McDonalds’ sustainability journey, we’ve partnered with hundreds of market leaders, blazing a path for nonprofits partnering with companies. We continue to collaborate on innovative solutions that benefit both the environment and the economy.

Updated: November 2018

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    Decrease in McDonald's waste as a result of our groundbreaking partnership with the company