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End of the burger box? McDonald’s Germany trials switch to paper wrapping amid material reduction efforts

August 13, 2021
Chemical Value Chain

McDonald’s Germany is testing a move from paperboard clam shells to paper wrappings for its burger products, which the company says could potentially save up 70 percent of packaging material.

Speaking to PackagingInsights, a McDonald’s spokesperson says the trial, now running in 30 of its stores for a two-month period, aims to test the ability to produce fast food at the same speed with more resource-conserving packaging.

“Although the packaging is necessary for our restaurants to provide fast, safe and uncomplicated service, too much of it pollutes the environment.”

The company will conduct surveys among its customers in parallel with restaurant operations and measure parameters during preparation in the test stores.

“Here, we are particularly interested in how the guests perceive the products in the new packaging and how they rate the handling. At the same time, we are looking at what influence the wrapping has on the quality of the respective product (including temperature, toppings) as well as the preparation time,” explains the spokesperson.

“We will then consolidate and evaluate this feedback and decide whether we will wrap our burgers throughout Germany in the future.”

Practical paper challenges
The spokesperson explains that switching from boxes to paper wrapping presents infrastructural problems and new staff training to maintain each restaurant’s output.

“In the test restaurants, the kitchen areas were reconfigured because the papers require a different arrangement than the clam shells. This means that the kitchen staff must first learn to distinguish the packaging for each product. Furthermore, the operational procedures have changed, which means that wrapping the burgers needs some practice and takes a little longer at the beginning.”

The employees in the service area also have to adjust, they explain. When serving the products, they have to be able to distinguish between the new packaging. In addition, the boxes could be stacked more easily in out-of-home bags.

For these challenges, special training measures were carried out in the test restaurants to train the employees.

McDonald’s commitments
These adjustments are part of McDonald’s strategy to bring its environmental impact in line with global targets like the Paris Climate Agreement.

By 2025, it claims that 100 percent of all sales packaging in all McDonald’s restaurants worldwide will be made from renewable, recycled or certified materials.

McDonald’s Germany developed a roadmap in 2019 to reduce plastic and packaging waste to achieve this goal. One of the steps on this roadmap is that it will continuously test innovative packaging solutions in its restaurants.

Minimalist redesign
This year, McDonald’s launched a redesign of its packaging in a modernist style, using minimalist graphical representations of corresponding menu items that reduce on-pack messaging.

Carried out by US-based creative agency Pearlfisher, the simplified clam-shell designs depict cool blue waves for the Filet-O-Fish and golden melting cheese on the Quarter Pounder with Cheese. The designs also pertain to paper beverage cups, French fries holders and sandwich wrappers.

By Louis Gore-Langton


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