As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy group, is calling for McDonalds’ to conduct assessments to examine the environmental impact the use of polystyrene in their cups and trays may have.
Polystyrene (more commonly known as Styrofoam) is a popular plastic packaging material for food items. This material has been found to have negative environmental and health impacts in recent years and has caused many companies to refrain from using the material. According to Bio-Based World News, McDonalds stopped using the material in their hot beverage cups in the U.S. in 2013; however, it is still being used in their overseas markets.
Polystyrene is rarely recycled due to its light weight and the high cost of transporting the material; therefore, most is sent to landfills where it will not decompose for hundreds of years.
So far, nine countries and more than 100 companies in the United States have restricted the use of foam packaging.
“McDonald’s cannot afford to fall behind other companies in phasing out polystyrene,” said Conrad MacKerron, Vice President at As You Sow, who specializes in waste and recycling issues. “The McDonald’s brand is put at risk with branded cups found on beaches and waterways."