McDonald’s to remove potentially harmful chemicals in food packaging by 2025

McDonald’s is working on a more sustainably wrapped burger.

The fast-food giant said it plans to eliminate all PFAS found in its food packaging after environmental advocacy groups conducted a study last year calling out the chain, and others like Burger King and Wendy’s, in a report titled “Packaged in Pollution: Are food chains using PFAS in packaging?”

Environmental advocacy groups had independent labs conduct tests on fast food packaging, reportedly finding toxic levels of PFAS in packaging McDonald’s uses for Big Macs and certain other food containers.

Environmental advocacy groups had independent labs conduct tests on fast food packaging, reportedly finding toxic levels of PFAS in packaging McDonald’s uses for Big Macs and certain other food containers.
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Environmental advocacy groups Toxic-Free Future and Mind the Store had independent labs conduct tests on fast food packaging and reportedly found toxic levels of PFAS, a group of man-made chemicals composed of non-biodegradable linked carbon and fluorine atoms (including perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals) in packaging McDonald’s uses for Big Macs, and food containers for fries and cookies.

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The study also found the chemicals present in paper bags used at Wendy’s and in the packaging for Burger King’s Whopper.

“We’re proud to take another step in our product stewardship journey with our commitment to remove all added fluorinated compounds from our guest packaging materials globally by 2025,” McDonald’s said according to a press release from Toxic-Free Future, which noted the fast-food giant has already eliminated BPA, BPS, and phthalates in its guest packaging.

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Environmental advocacy groups, however, are calling on McDonald’s to speed up its sustainability efforts to next year.

“We appreciate McDonald’s taking this important action and heeding our call. However, four years is far too long for their customers and frontline communities to continue to be polluted by these unnecessary forever chemicals. We urge McDonald’s to phase these chemicals out by 2022 and ensure substitutes are safe and reusable. Other major fast-food chains like Burger King and Wendy’s should join them in driving PFAS out of food packaging,” Mind the Store Campaign Director Mike Schade said in a statement.

When reached for comment, McDonald’s declined to respond to the advocacy group’s call for a speedier timeline. 

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A number of fast-food restaurants have heightened sustainability efforts in recent months. Burger King in October announced it planned to test out reusable food containers this year in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint. And Panera introduced badges to show menu items with a low carbon footprint. 

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