Daily Insights

Coffee Served Sustainably

By: Mackenzie Baker | Sep 15, 2020

McDonald’s UK serves up a new initiative that recruits customers as key players in its recycling program. 

McDonald’s UK is test-running a new reusable cup program that serves coffee and hot chocolate in a plastic cup, rather than a disposable one. Customers can drink their beverage in a branded plastic cup and then toss it in a special bin where it will be collected and cleaned for another customer’s use. Patrons can also choose to use and keep the plastic cups, which they will pay a small deposit for. Those that use the cup in a McDonald’s restaurant can drop it off at the location’s dedicated bin, while others who take their cups to go can reuse it multiple times and drop it off at another location later. 

For the program, McDonald’s partnered with reusable packaging brand Loop, which designed the new cups and runs the drop off bins. The partnership marks Loop’s first food service industry partner, after previously working with multiple CPG and grocery brands. As Loop works with a variety of companies around the U.K., McDonald’s customers can drop their cups off anywhere they see a Loop bin, such as at a Tesco supermarket. By giving customers the freedom to dispose of their cups at a time and place convenient to them, McDonald’s could leave diners more inclined to participate knowing their typical restaurant experience will not be disturbed. With customers prioritizing sustainability and socially responsible companies, the brand’s new cups could increase loyalty and restaurant visits, according to a Gartner report. Though the Loop cups are currently available for coffee and hot chocolate only, McDonald’s UK hopes to expand to sodas and McFlurries in the near future. 

Given McDonald’s international presence, the UK pilot program could be the start of an international recycling expansion. As an industry leader, McDonald’s reusable cups could set a standard for other restaurants and open up new opportunities for sustainable food packaging.