Less Plastic Under the Golden Arches

WWF Transparent 2021 Report

A trip to McDonald's may no longer mean so much trash. A new report, Transparent 2021, out today, from the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) found that their waste-cutting initiative, ReSource: Plastic, saw companies cut their use of carbon-intensive, plastic waste by 57% between 2018 and 2020. McDonald's Corporation, The Coca-Cola Company, Proctor and Gamble, and Starbucks were among the massive corporations that participated.

Why It Matters

We can't solve climate change without reducing plastic use and decarbonizing the industry. Recycling alone has not been a panacea for a carbon-intensive industry and product. A recent study published in Nature estimated there were 414 million pieces of plastic debris along one island chain alone in the India Ocean. In the Pacific Ocean, what has become known as "the great pacific garbage patch," has grown to double the size of Texas. Findings like these, experts say, are the sounding of the alarm.

Large scale initiatives like ReSource are essential to tackling the problem, but experts warn there is much work left to be done. In their report, the WWF told companies how to take their efforts further, including asking that they test pilot reuse programs in their stores. Programs like these, which allows containers to be returned, cleaned, and used again, have "the potential to fundamentally change how we use and dispose of plastic," says the WWF.

Breaking The Cycle

Reusable container programs could have a big role to play, as experts warn that more than recycling alone will be needed to see our way out of the plastic crisis. According to Reuters, reports suggest that plastic production is set to double by 2040. Activists, like Von Hernandez of the Break Free From Plastic movement, warn that "recycling can't compete with overproduction."

Companies participating in the WWF's initiative, though, emphasize their multipronged approach toward their sustainability goals. Amcor, which produces packaging, stated they are on track to make 100% of products "recyclable or reusable by 2025," and Kimberly-Clarke celebrated their progress towards the same goal.

WW0: COP26 WWF CEO Talks, November 1, 2021.

WW0: COP26 WWF CEO Talks, November 3, 2021.