Guy holding McDonald's bag and cup

In a bid to cut down its consumption of single-use plastic, McDonald's New Zealand has announced its plans to trial wooden cutlery in select New Zealand restaurants. The three-month scheme will be implemented in nine stores around the country including Orewa, Taupo, Havelock North, Northlands, Courtney Central and Queenstown.

Meanwhile, other franchises, including the Greenlane and Christchurch airport restaurants, will implement the wooden-cutlery policy as part of the brand's flagship restaurant programme sometime in the future.

The move falls under the brand's more extensive sustainability commitment called Scale For Good, which aims to use packaging made from 100 percent renewable, recycled, or certified sources and install recycling facilities in all McDonald's restaurants by 2025.

David Howes, managing director at McDonald's New Zealand, believes the switch to wooden cutlery would make a sizable difference as the company uses an estimated 10 million plastic cutleries annually.

"Wooden cutlery joins our current fibre-based straw and cup recycling trials, and we have more packaging changes and trials in the pipeline as we move towards meeting all of our 2025 commitments," said Howes. "Trials are a great way to get quick customer feedback and ensure we can scale to all of our restaurants in the most effective way."


McDonald's has also launched a collect and recycle program for its takeaway cups.

The program will be operated in partnership with Simply Cups, Australia's largest cup recycling program, and Huhtamaki which supplies McDonald's takeaway cups and runs a local pulp recycling plant.

Simply Cups collection stations will be placed in the lobbies of six Auckland restaurants, which will allow customers to separate their cups from other waste streams easily.

Used cups will be collected, shredded and recycled into fibre pulp which will be used for new packaging including McDonald's drink cup holders and egg trays used by egg suppliers.

"The majority of our packaging is made from fibre, and we use around 70 million hot and cold cups each year," explained Howes. "We've been having discussions with our suppliers, central and local government and other groups for some time about priorities when it comes to packaging and recycling. Simply Cups already operates an effective programme in Australia and Huhtamaki has done a lot of work to give us the capability to recycle the fibre-based cups."

The trial will start with restaurants in proximity to Huhtamaki's pulp recycling plant, with plans to expand to other locations once initial learnings have been assessed.

The trial restaurants include Greenlane, Manukau City, Botany, Mangere, Otara and Otahuhu.