McDonald's Tests Paper Coffee Cups
Burger giant trying out double-walled paper cups
March 22, 2012 - McDonald's Corp.is testing double-walled paper coffee cups in 2,000 West Coast locations based on pressure from shareholders, new regulations and environmental consumer groups.
Specifically, the California test stems from a shareholder resolution asking McDonald’s to seek alternatives to foam cups and a proposed ban on polystyrene containers in California, according to a Chicago Tribune report.
Although unpopular with environmental group, foam cups continue to be widely used in foodservice for coffee because it retains heat so well is lightweight and cost effective.
Meanwhile, environmental groups dislike the material because it is so light and easily blows away and ends up waterways frequently where it can be dangerous to marine life.
Bob Langert, vice president of sustainability at McDonald's told the Chicago Tribune that McDonald’s has been seeking alternatives to polystyrene for decades, but has not found a material that performs as well, at least not yet.
In 1990, McDonald's phased out plastic foam clamshells for food and y decreased its packaging by 300 million pounds in the subsequent 10 years, according to the report, and approximately 30 percent of its paper packaging is made from recycled material.
Some groups, however, warm that paper cups are not always superior. "No disposable product is environmentally benign," said Rob Wallace, a spokesman for Keep America Beautiful, noting that paper cups are made from renewable resources but weigh two to three times more than foam. Importantly, paper cups are not generally recyclable because they are coated with plastic to prevent liquid seepage.
Starbucks Coffee Co., however, is working closely with state and local governments and suppliers to make its paper cups recyclable by the end of 2015.