McCafe McDonalds paper bag
© Erik McLean -

McDonald’s sources majority of paper packaging from recycled and sustainable fiber

The company’s latest sustainability report highlights that 99.6 percent of the chain’s paper bags, food wrappers, napkins and cup carriers come from recycled and sustainable fiber sources.


McDonald’s Corp., Chicago, has announced that the company has almost achieved its goal of sourcing all of its paper food packaging in restaurants from recycled or sustainable fiber. The company released its 2020-2021 Purpose and Impact Progress Report Aug. 19.

According to the report, 99.6 percent of its paper bags, food wrappers, napkins, cup carriers and other fiber-based materials it used to package meals for customers came from recycled or certified sustainable fiber sources in 2020, which is up from 92 percent in 2019. Overall, the company says 80 percent of its packaging came from renewable, recycled or certified sources in 2020, and 25 percent of McDonald’s restaurants in the company’s 30 largest markets offer customers the opportunity to recycle packaging materials.

The company’s 2020-2021 Purpose and Impact Progress Report states that the company sees some of the biggest opportunities to advance its sustainability goals with its packaging. “We know that when packaging and plastic waste aren’t recovered or recycled correctly, it can have a negative impact on our planet,” the company states.

McDonald’s also uses paper straws and wooden cutlery in some markets and is exploring fiber lids and reusable cups. The company also has set a larger goal for all of its customer packaging to come from renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025.

“Improving the sustainability of our packaging and moving toward a circular economy are top priorities for our business,” the company states in its report. “These strategies support our long-term business resilience, help keep our communities clean and aim to help protect the planet for future generations. We realize that the linear economic model, where we take, make and dispose of materials, can create waste that harms nature and impacts communities. That’s why we believe the future of materials needs to be circular wherever possible.”