Croatia’s McDonald’s Introducing New Products to Reduce Plastic

Lauren Simmonds

Croatia’s branch of the large American fast food chain has decided on a step that all of their customers and employees, not to mention the environment, should feel. As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes on the 5th of November, 2019, today, McDonald’s announced its plan to reduce plastic use and phase out its use entirely by 2025 at the Zagreb Avenue Mall location.

“We have to talk about this problem because it’s important for the entire planet, and then for us. We’ve been struggling with this for some time, it isn’t easy, because we’re the largest restaurant chain in the world, we want to be among the first to go in this direction of reducing plastic use. What we do has a big impact: There are more than 10,000 people visiting us every day in restaurants across Croatia that we want to show you can do a lot without so much plastic.

Our first step is to be taken next year, and we’re already introducing items that will replace plastic ones up to now, such as paper straws, paper balloon holders and paper cups for some of our products like McFlurry ice cream. By 2025, we want to have all of our products be recycled ones or from sustainable sources, which don’t have a negative impact on the environment,” explained McDonald’s Croatia director Pavel Pavliček.

Robert Švigir, Head of Purchasing and Quality Control, noted that paper fibers are used in almost 80 percent of packaging. At the beginning of 2020, all paper packaging used by McDonald’s in Croatia will come from certified, recycled or sustainable sources.

”Plastic straws are quite a big problem and they’re one of the reasons for switching to the paper version. Unfortunately, the food business requires a certain amount of plastic packaging to ensure the safety and quality of food and, on the other hand, to reduce its waste. That is why we’ve focused on trying to reduce the use of those with reduced recycling capacity or to remove them completely, as is the case with plastic straws, and to increase the share of recycled materials. This is the so-called RPET plastic, which can be completely recycled and new products can then be made from it,” explained Švigir.

With such an approach, McDonald’s could, as they point out, meet the EU’s set goals for a circular economy and waste prevention. Such activities, they say, will continue so that they are primarily engaged in the sustainable use of plastics in business.

As a chain with 30 restaurants across the Republic of Croatia,  it is not easy to implement the aforementioned changes, especially with regard to the procurement of all of the adequate materials. The new packaging is therefore being tested at the Avenue Mall restaurant and will gradually be introduced to others across the country.

“The procurement process is still ongoing and we’re still looking for the best alternative materials that could replace plastics without affecting the customer experience and disrupting our standard of service. The procurement process took several months in Croatia, we tested many different materials in order to find the correct types. All the manufacturers are from the EU, it is important that the straws are sustainable and don’t have a negative impact on the environment.

“You can imagine, every time a customer orders a menu or a drink they get a straw, that’s a lot of plastic. By the end of 2021 and early 2022, we intend to remove plastic straws, and by 2025, all the other plastic packaging, disposable glasses… It’s a demanding project that is also affecting change within the supply chain and we’re monitoring the impact not only on the chain but also on the environment,” Pavliček said.

McDonald’s Croatia have pointed out that these changes, which all require a considerable investment, will not affect the price of their products for the end consumer.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more. Follow Total Eco Croatia if you’re interested in both the official and unofficial ways Croatia tries to protect its environment.


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