McDonald’s experimenting with sustainable packaging at Berlin store

McDonald’s sustainable packaging

Reusable instead of disposable, grass paper, as well as ketchup in a waffle: in search of sustainable packaging solutions, McDonald’s has gone on the offensive and launched a live experiment. For 10 days, the McDonald’s store in the Mall of Berlin became a model restaurant for waste and plastic prevention.

From the 17 to 26 June 2019, McDonald’s turned its branch in the Mall of Berlin into a model restaurant under the motto “Less garbage & plastic”. The B+P Creality team was on site to examine the measures and alternative packaging. The conclusion is mixed.

Packaging alternatives in practice testing

> In the case of plastic beverage cups, a reusable variant replaced the disposable variants. Next to the upside of having a reusable variant, the expenses for the installation and operation of the cleaning systems come as a downside. It is also questionable how the reusable concept will be made to-go-capable. A deposit system would further increase the effort.

> The drinking straw out of paper dissolved too quickly when drinking shakes. The paper version is still a long way from the hygienic and neutral-in-taste impression of the plastic blades.

> PE-laminated paper bowls were used for salads. They replace plastic but have disadvantages in their recyclability.

> Paper bags were used for Chicken McNuggets. This results in a reduced use of materials.

> Edible waffle cups were used for ketchup and dips as well as soft ice cream. The hygiene aspect is not ideal. And the question arises as to whether packaging made from food, which should be disposed of in practice, is the right signal for sustainability.

> Grass paper was used to cover the burgers. It worked fine. However, the paper’s grass content was only 30%.

> The cutlery was made of wood. Here, the practical test showed disadvantages in terms of taste neutrality.

> The disposal of residual waste is also not optimal.

The conclusion

What is definitely positive: With McDonald’s, a great player is set to boldly move forward and explore alternatives. Nonetheless, it appears that much still needs to be done. In the end, only marginally less used packaging remained on the tray. Only the claim to use less plastic was visibly implemented. In too many instances the tested alternatives lacked in their circulatory capacity. But this is essential for real sustainability.

Nor does it seem to have really solved the question of whether McDonald’s succeeds in making both stationary and to-go consumers happy with its concept.


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