why did McDonalds in the US decide to phase out polystyrene cups?

10 10 2013


McDonald’s has confirmed that it will replace all polystyrene cups with paper ones at its 14,000 US outlets.

Paper cups will now be used as standard across all US outlets.
Paper cups will now be used as standard across all US outlets.

The move comes in response to a shareholder proposal filed in 2011 by As You Sow, a non-profit organization that promotes corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, which asked it to stop using polystyrene.

After successful trials using double walled paper cups at around 2,000 outlets, McDonald’s will now roll them out as standard at all US outlets.

“We congratulate McDonald’s on its decision to stop using foam beverage cups, which will reducce the threat of plastic pollution to the world’s oceans and provide a more recyclable, valuable alternative in paper fiber,” said Conrad MaKerron, senior vice president for As You Sow.

According to As You Sow, polystyrene is not widely recycled and has become pervasive in the marine environment where it is a danger to birds and marine life. A number of cities in California have banned or restricted the use of polystyrene food packaging and the New York mayor has also proposed banning it.

McDonald’s began to phase out its clamshell hamburger boxes in 1990 but continued to use polystyrene beverage cups.

As You Sow says it is also in dialogue with Dunkin’ Donuts, which uses polystyrene beverage cups. The company has announced plans to phase them out in two to three years but has not disclosed what materials it will use instead.


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