headline press information

Date 28th January 2013 / www.procarton.com
Title Leadership for change at scale
Text Serving 15 million customers in Europe every day requires a lot of packaging – but the iconic packaging at McDonald's is becoming a poster child for sustainability. "We have a pioneering spirit at McDonald's", says Jacqui Macalister, responsible for sustainability in McDonald's European Supply Chain "we want to be on the leading edge of developments". Pro Carton asked her what the McDonald's packaging team is currently focusing on… For download in print quality, please click on the photo.

What is your vision?

Our long term global vision is for all our food and packaging to come from sustainable sources. If a company the size and scale of McDonald's makes a move on packaging, we can stimulate activity in our supply chain that starts to bring about mainstream change. Therefore, it's our job to be a leader and also to be seen as one as it helps us build trust in our brand – something that's really important to us.


What is your long-term strategy?

We've developed a sustainable packaging strategy with three core elements:

  1. Use only sustainable and renewable raw materials
  2. Use less packaging: even a small reduction in weight can have a big impact!
  3. Use recyclable materials: our vision is to recycle everthing from our restaurants in Europe and packaging is key to achieving that


How can sustainable packaging create business value?

We regularly conduct research surveys among our customers and these have shown that waste, litter and recycling are high on their agenda. So what we use in our packaging really speaks to them – it's a visible way we can demonstrate our commitment to the environment. But this isn't only about our customers: over the years we've established solid partnerships with suppliers, peers, industry and stakeholders, which gives us credibility and lasting relationships we can leverage to get more done.


For example, we've been co-operating closely with WWF on our global "Sustainable Sourcing Commitment" to make our entire supply chain progressively more sustainable. Now that's a very long term goal so they helped us to identify our most important commodities that became global priorities. Our current focus is on beef, chicken, coffee, palm oil, fish and wood fibre. The original intent was to protect ecosystems, biodiversity and high value conservation land but this has now extended to become a sustainable sourcing strategy in the broadest sense of the term.


What are you currently engaged in?

McDonald's is a business obsessed with execution – and we've already achieved a lot with our packaging. The first big move was in the 1990s when we started replacing most of our polystyrene packaging by carton board solutions so that today around 90% of our sales packaging in Europe is made from wood fibre.


We're currently working on using exclusively recycled or FSC and PEFC certified wood fibre - which we've been heavily engaged on since around 2005 when we started developing our Forestry Policy and Fibre Sourcing Survey. The goal was to ensure virgin fibres originated from substantiated legal and acceptable sources. We established full transparency to forest origin five years ago – so the next step for us is 100% recycled or certified fibre.


How do you integrate environmental criteria into business decision making?

Packaging ensures that food at McDonald's is fresh, hot, safe and convenient to handle. In 2006 we introduced the "Eco-Filter" - a scorecard for greener packaging - to allow us to evaluate packaging according to a set of criteria. It was recently revised to align it with our our changing strategic objectives:

  • Is it renewable?
  • Does the material originate from a sustainable source certified by third parties or is it recycled material?
  • Is it weight-optimised?
  • Can the material be recycled or composted?
  • Are as few hazardous chemicals as possible used for production?

This means we have an environmental variable that can form part of decision making alongside other critical aspects of packaging like food safety, performance, functionality and cost.


Where does innovation come from at McDonald's?

We've just refreshed our innovation process to improve the flow of ideas between suppliers and McDonald's throughout Europe and enables collaboration. Innovation comes from all quarters really – marketing, supply chain, operations, suppliers, the countries and externally. A good example is the McNoodles "Wok Box" recently developed in Austria.


The McNoodles "Wok Box" – which is presently being tested in the Austrian market – represents exemplary packaging and was created by designer Susanne Lippitsch who received a Pro Carton Design Award at the beginning of her career and whose students have successfully participated in our Awards.

Jacqui Macalister
Jacqui Macalister

The McNoodles "Wok Box"
Austrian McNoodles "Wok Box" - a collaboration between McDonald's Austria, designer Susanne Lippitsch and suppliers RLC Packaging and Havi Global Solutions.




Suzanne McEwen +43 1 218 6918 mcewen@procarton.com
Background Pro Carton is the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers. Its main purpose is to promote the use of cartons and cartonboard to brand owners, the trade as well as designers, the media and politicians as an economically and ecologically balanced packaging medium.