Big innovation at McDonald’s: What customers can expect when choosing a drink

– Fast-food giant McDonald’s has been experimenting with its packaging for some time: from ice cream cups, new packaging material to wooden cutlery. Now there is another innovation.

The reusable offer obligation started with the new year on January 1, 2023. According to the new specification, restaurants, cafés and bistros must also offer their to-go food and drinks in reusable packaging. The obligation also applies to fast food chains such as Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald’s. But even before the new year, McDonald’s took the first step and introduced its own new reusable range.

The fast-food giant announced last year that a nationwide McDonald’s returnable deposit system would be introduced from December 2022. according to the company on its website. In the McDonald’s branches, reusable cups for drinks and ice cream can now be purchased at the customer’s request and for a deposit of 2 euros. “Wherever it makes sense and is feasible, we rely on reusables,” writes McDonald’s.

The fast-food giant does not provide any reusable alternatives for the boxes and cases for burgers and fries. The reason for this is that the disposable packaging of the affected products does not contain any plastic and therefore does not require an alternative according to the specifications. The company has been testing the new system in ten selected restaurants (including in the Munich and Berlin area) since November, explains McDonald’s.

While the fast food restaurant chain works with its own deposit system, cooperates Competitor Burger King with a provider of reusable systems. The advantage of a deposit system provider is that customers can also return their reusable cups at all dispensing points. According to the company, each reusable cup should be able to replace up to 1000 disposable cups over the course of its useful life.

New multi-way offer obligation

The new obligation must be observed by all those who sell take-away packaging filled with food or drinks to consumers: restaurants, cafés, bistros, but also canteens, petrol stations, supermarkets or catering companies. However, the same product in reusable packaging must not be more expensive than in disposable packaging. However, it is permitted to issue the reusable packaging against a deposit, which is paid back when it is returned.

Exceptions to this are smaller shops such as snack bars, late night shops and kiosks, in which a maximum of five employees work and which at the same time have a shop area of ​​no more than 80 square meters. However, customers in these establishments have the option of having their food and drinks filled in reusable containers they have brought with them.

Reusable: “Important building block against increasing littering”

According to the Berlin consumer advice center, citizens in Germany produce 770 tons of packaging waste per day through take-away packaging for food and drinks. A study commissioned by the Federal Environment Agency showed that single-use plastic products alone – such as to-go cups, food packaging, carrier bags, cigarette butts – cause municipal cleaning costs of around 434 million euros a year. According to the Association of Municipal Enterprises (VKU), this does not include pizza boxes and aluminum trays.

For the VKU, the obligation to return is therefore “an important building block against the increasing littering of public spaces and for more waste avoidance”. It will be crucial, however, that consumers make a conscious decision to do so. The association also hopes for pool solutions in the municipalities. “For example, citizens should be able to return a reusable cup anywhere, no matter where he or she bought it,” said a VKU spokesman.

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