McMefi Recycling
October 12, 2005 6:37 PM   Subscribe

McMefi - What packaging from McDonalds can I recycle?

I've been involved in a fundraiser catered by, sigh, McDonalds and we have bags of straws, straw packaging, cardboard packaging, paper burger wrappers, plastic cups, plastic cup covers, napkins, bags, fry packages, and paper hash brown wrappers. I can't seem to find any place that tells me which I can recycle. Is all of it recyclable? How much of it is made from recycled products? Searches resulted in a lot of lawsuit responses and vague FAQ information. Help!
posted by bkdelong to Science & Nature (8 answers total)
Doesn't seem like whether it was made of recyclable products is that relevant, if they've already decided to use them. Just treat it like any other product you buy and would recycle.

Given that, here's an article on what they've done over time. The small changes are particularly fascinating: the napkins are one inch shorter, and the straws are 10% lighter.
posted by smackfu at 6:53 PM on October 12, 2005

The paper products should all be recyclable -- unless they've been used. Food-soiled paper can't be recycled.

As for the plastic, if it's not marked, throw it away. If it is marked, find out which kinds of plastics (the little numbers in the "recyclable" icon) you can recycle in your area.
posted by jjg at 7:10 PM on October 12, 2005

Response by poster: re: recyclable, I was just curious if they use recyclable material. What's the defacto policy on "food-soiled" ? If food was in it but none is sticking to the wrapper/packaging, is it safe to recycle?
posted by bkdelong at 8:23 PM on October 12, 2005

If food has touched it, it can't be recycled --- greases penetrate the paper and are difficult to extract. Also anything which is wax covered (e.g., paper cups) are a no go.

Drink carriers are usually a no go as well, but they biodegrade quickly.
posted by nathan_teske at 9:47 PM on October 12, 2005

In Japan, they seem to recycle everything in McDonalds.

They have seperate bins. You empty your drinks into a funnel along with ice (fingers crossed they dont recycle that!), cups in a tupe, plastics in one bin and then paper in another.
(best photo I can find)

I cant think of any reason for doing this other than recycling.
posted by lemonfridge at 9:43 AM on October 13, 2005

City of Boston recycling guide (PDF). For more information, call 617-635-4959 or 617-635-7574.
posted by hilker at 10:26 AM on October 13, 2005

The bun.
posted by firstdrop at 10:22 PM on October 13, 2005

Best answer: That's a bit disappointing. One would think that someone has developed a good-enough process to "wash" food & grease out of paper and cardboard in the pulping process. The fact that most of McDonald's products are paper, fiberboard and plastic would make all of it recyclable.

So, from what I can tell, I can recycle:

* straws (plastic)
* straw packaging (paper)
* plastic cups (5 - Polypropylene)
* plastic cup covers
* Unused napkins
* bags (paper)

Though I haven't seen the plastic recycling mark anywhere on straws or the cup covers.
posted by bkdelong at 5:55 AM on March 2, 2006

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