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McDonald’s has shared what it learned from a 10-day experiment to introduce more sustainable packaging options at one of its German restaurants.

The “Better McDonald’s Store” concept at the Mall of Berlin trialled a number of sustainable solutions, including replacing plastic cutlery with wood and plastic straws with paper; wrapping burgers in grass-based packaging instead of paper; serving nuggets in paper bags rather than cardboard boxes; and even replacing condiment sachets and containers with edible waffle cups.

According to Heike Bierweiler, supply chain director at McDonald’s Germany, the June trial aimed to gather feedback from customers on what worked and what didn’t.

“First and foremost, new solutions for disposable packaging mean a changeover, not just for companies but also for consumers. Therefore, in this experiment we want to find out what is possible and where we may still have to go into further development. 

“An innovative solution only works if it fits in equally well with our operative processes in the restaurant, with hygiene requirements, or just to the taste of our guests,” she said.

In a recent blog post, McDonald’s shared the feedback it received on the trial, which it said was overwhelmingly positive – aside from the wooden cutlery, with one in two guests disliking the spoon’s “woody” taste.

“The grass wrapper was a hit in terms of eco-friendliness and ease of use. Many people felt the edible waffle cups were a good alternative to the current sauce and dip sachets and containers (though we learned the shape should be modified for dipping Chicken McNuggets).

“Our customers believed the paper straws were eco-friendly, but had challenges with respect to ease of use and durability – and we learned that many in-store guests believe eliminating the lid entirely would be a perfectly feasible solution,” the company wrote.

McDonald’s has already implemented a number of sustainable solutions at its German restaurants, including serving hot beverages in glass or porcelain mugs rather than paper cups with plastic lids; guests can also receive a 10-cent discount if they bring their own reusable cups.

The company has also implemented the ReCup reusable cup solution for customers without their own cups: customers pay a one-euro deposit to receive a reusable cup with purchase, which they can then return to have that deposit refunded at their convenience.

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