McDonald’s announced today that is has partnered with TerraCycle’s circular packaging service, Loop, on a new reusable packaging initiative. Beginning in 2021 the foodservice giant will test a new reusable cup model for hot beverages, at select restaurants in the UK.

McDonald’s has several sustainable packaging initiatives in place worldwide, including the reusable “Recup” system in Germany, fully recoverable hot and cold fiber cups, the NextGen Cup Challenge in the US, as well as efforts to recycle paper cups in multiple markets. Additionally, as a member of the UK Paper Cup Coalition, McDonald’s has invested in a scheme run by Valpak that incentivizes more waste companies to collect paper cups for recycling.

Jenny McColloch, Vice President, Global Sustainability, McDonald’s Corporation, said:

“We’re on a journey to rethink how we package products to give customers options that reduce waste, maintain the highest safety standards, and enhance the McDonald’s experience they expect and enjoy. That’s an innovation challenge, and it’s one we think the Loop model has potential to help us solve. Our commitment to communities is one of our core values as a company, and this pilot will generate important local insights and lessons to share along the way. We’re excited to assess how new reusable packaging models could work within our system as we accelerate circular packaging solutions with our partners around the globe.”

For the current pilot, Loop created the cup, designed to enable customers to reduce waste, and also designed the cleaning system, in partnership with Ecolab. The cleaning system was scientifically developed to sanitize each item, which means each cup is hygienically cleaned before each use, making it as safe and hygienic as single-use cups.

TerraCycle and Loop CEO, Tom Szaky, said:

“This groundbreaking partnership with McDonald’s enables Loop to greatly expand its reach by bringing convenient reusable packaging options to the food service industry. The partnership paves the way for reusables to become an accessible option for consumers as they enjoy their meal on the go.”

Erin Simon, Head, Plastic and Business at World Wildlife Fund, said:

“If we’re going to curb the plastic waste crisis we need to invest in data driven strategies that reduce our demand for virgin plastic. For McDonald’s and the larger food and beverage sector, reuse will be one component of any reduction strategy. As a society we need to ensure the plastics we use today are the plastics we’ll be able to use again in the future.”