World’s Largest McDonald’s Franchisee to Replace Plastic Food Tray with Sustainable Alternative

(Credit: McDonald's)

by | Jan 26, 2021

(Credit: McDonald’s)

Arcos Dorados Holdings, Latin America’s largest restaurant chain and the world’s largest independent McDonald’s franchisee, has announced that it will substitute the plastic trays currently used by its guests with trays made from more sustainable materials.

Since implementing its plastics reduction program in 2018, more than 1.300 tons of single-use plastic have been removed from Arcos Dorados’ operation. The Company plans to continue on this path, minimizing the use of virgin materials throughout its logistics, supply chain and restaurant operations to measurably offset its carbon footprint.

The new trays represent the first step in the partnership between Arcos Dorados and UBQ Materials, an Israeli company that has patented a technology, which converts household waste into a climate positive, biobased, thermoplastic. Not to be confused with standard recycling that requires highly developed sorting, UBQ’s technology receives waste destined for landfills that includes all manner of materials, including food leftovers, paper, cardboard and mixed plastics. This mixed material is converted into a single, composite, thermoplastic material compatible with industry machinery and manufacturing standards.

In the first phase of the partnership, 7,200 serving trays made with UBQ will be introduced in 30 McDonald’s restaurants in 20 Brazilian state capitals, replacing old plastic trays. The initiative will be gradually extended to all McDonald’s restaurants throughout the country, with 11,000 additional trays already in production. Aside from the UBQ logo, McDonald’s guests will see and feel no difference in the iconic serving tray as the impact of this collaboration is in the invaluable offset of carbon emissions. Using UBQ in the production of the new trays has already diverted over 1,200 kg of waste from being sent to landfills.

The new trays are produced by the Brazilian company Semaza Comércio de Plástico Ltda., in its plant in Santana de Parnaíba, in the Greater São Paulo region. The introduction of trays made with UBQ will be gradually extended to additional restaurants in the Company’s footprint, and the old plastic trays will be re-used in other circular economy projects promoted by Arcos Dorados.

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