McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) is well versed in the role of sustainability and environmental friendliness as part of business strategy — and good public relations. It abandoned foam plastic boxes for its burgers and such decades ago, and has continuously tinkered with supplies and recycling efforts to cut down on excessive waste and corporate costs.
Its latest green venture involves its ubiquitous coffee cups, currently made of polystyrene, which is both a good insulator and very lightweight. It’s also a petrochemical product, and that’s the problem McDonald’s is now trying solve. Its solution, now in a limited test phase, is a new paper coffee cup.
According to the Chicago Tribune, ”The move comes in the wake of a shareholder resolution asking the Oak Brook-based burger giant to seek alternatives to foam cups and a proposed ban on polystyrene containers in California.” That led to the experiment with double-wall paper cups that started in January. Some 2,000 locations are now taking part, according to the Environment News Service.
The paper cups, however, present their own problems because the plastic coating they use prevents them from being easily recycled and their additional weight raises shipping costs – no small consideration given McDonald’s uses cups by the billions. The Chicago Tribune notes that Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), which already uses paper cups, is also working on the recycling issue and hopes to have a process in place by 2015.