Compostable Versus Recyclable? And McDonald’s Plan For Change

by James Turton | November 23, 2021

Compostable Versus Recyclable? And McDonald’s Plan For Change - Header Image

At NaturePac, we are actively seeking to ensure that as much of our packaging is made from recycled material and that it can then be recycled, easily, at curb side, to be used again.

However, our journey didn’t start here. In 2018 we started by supplying compostable packaging only.  Back then, the research available led us to believe that compostable packaging was the best disposable packaging product to offer, not perfect, but the best we had. We believed that in time more investment would be pumped into improving the industrial composting waste stream and facilities. However, this has not happened as we anticipated.

takeaway cup

In 2018, we knew that compostable packaging wouldn’t be the final answer, and in fact we wrote a blog about it at the time. So, we continued to research ways in which we could improve the packaging we offer; we are on a mission to Keep Britain Beautiful by making food to go packaging as sustainable as possible.

In autumn 2021, after further research, collaborating with waste management companies, and recognising recent improvements in packaging technology, we now believe that the most sustainable disposable food packaging currently available is recyclable. There is a caveat on this; if the packaging is heavily contaminated with food (oil, grease, etc…) then the best option will be to compost the packaging. At NaturePac, when we say recyclable, we mean that throughout the majority of the UK it can be recycled at curb side, from your home or on the High Street.

However, we believe we can go further by making as much of our disposable packaging out of recycled material as possible. This will reduce the need for virgin material, it will increase the demand for recycled material, and it will lead to more material being recycled.

McDonalds packaging

We have been extremely encouraged to see this approach being adopted by one of the UK’s most prominent food brands and one of the UK’s major users of food to go packaging: McDonalds.

In a new advert shown on TV and YouTube they explain their ‘Plan for Change’. Their vision is to use only packaging which can be easily recycled and used again. They also commit to recycling their cooking oil into bio-diesel and recycling their Happy Meal toys into playgrounds.

It is really encouraging to see a business like McDonalds take a lead on this issue without being forced to act by legislation, a subject we referred to in our last blog on COP26. We shouldn’t be waiting for legislation, which might or might not come, it is up to us, as businesses, to take responsibility for making the changes needed to protect and repair our planet.

At NaturePac, we have pledged to become carbon neutral by December 2022, if not before. By this we mean that our business activities will become carbon neutral. We will be reducing our energy usage and reviewing all our business practices to see where we can make improvements. For instance, we already work with a delivery partner which is carbon neutral and uses electric vehicles in major cities. We use renewable electricity and any carbon we can’t cut, we will offset.

The next stage will be to ensure that all our products are carbon neutral. We will do this by simplifying our supply chain, manufacturing our products as close to the UK as possible, and then by working closely with our suppliers to reduce their impact on the environment. We have already made progress with this on our NaturePac 100% recyclable cups. They are manufactured in Ireland in a factory that runs on 100% renewable energy.

It is great to see businesses big and small working together to make meaningful changes. If more of us can contribute the impact will become unstoppable.