McDonald's Will Discontinue Foam Cups

By the end of 2018, the fast-food giant will make the switch to recycled products.
January 12, 2018

OAK BROOK, Ill. – McDonald’s announced this week that it would phase foam cups by the end of this year, the Chicago Tribune reports. The fast-food chain also said it would switch to recycled and certified sources for all fiber-based packaging by the end of the decade.

This marks the first time the burger chain put out a deadline to jettison polystyrene beverage containers, which, for large cold drinks, represents only 2% of its packaging. Environmentalists have been after the company to switch to more eco-friendly cups for years. McDonald’s already uses environmentally friendly paper containers and wrappings, but had hung onto its foam cups.

As You Sow, a corporate responsibility organization that has pressed McDonald’s to get rid of foam cups, said the chain will be outlining a packaging and recycling initiative soon. Close to 27 years ago, McDonald’s made a splay when it discontinued polystyrene clamshells for its burgers and other menu items.

Activists are hopeful that the move to stop using foam cups will resonate with other fast-food companies, such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Chick-fil-A, which still use the polystyrene drink containers. The McDonald’s decision will impact all of its restaurants both in the United States and abroad. “It sends a global signal and that’s of value,” said Conrad MacKerron, a senior vice president with As You Sow. “It’s taken a long time, but better late than never.”