McDonald’s NZ launches trial to recycle paper-based hot and cold drink cups

Media Alert

2 October 2019

Would you like some recycling with that?

McDonald’s NZ launches trial to recycle paper-based hot and cold drink cups

McDonald’s New Zealand has today announced the launch of a trial to collect and recycle hot and cold drink cups, as part of the company’s global Scale For Good packaging and recycling commitment.

Each year, New Zealanders use more than 300 million takeaway cups, most of which end up in landfill. As one of New Zealand’s largest sellers of takeaway coffee, McDonald’s New Zealand is launching a trial to divert their cups from landfill, and transform used cups into resources, including some that go back into their local supply chain.

The trial is being operated in partnership with Simply Cups, which runs Australia’s largest cup recycling program, and Huhtamaki, which supplies McDonald’s cups and operates a local pulp recycling plant.

As part of the initial restaurant pilot, Simply Cups collection stations will be placed in the lobbies of six Auckland restaurants. Customers can now easily separate their cups from other waste streams. Used cups are then collected, shredded, and recycled into fibre pulp used for new packaging, including McDonald's drink cup holders and egg trays used by McDonald's free range egg suppliers. It is a great example of the circular economy in action.

“The majority of our packaging is made from fibre, and we use around 70 million hot and cold cups each year,” explains McDonald’s New Zealand managing director Dave Howse. “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.

“We know single use packaging and plastics are one of the things Kiwis worry about most, and we can use our scale to help drive positive changes and build capability and infrastructure. We’ve got visible and well located restaurants around the country that can provide a convenient collection point for single use items like cups.”

The initiative is part of McDonald’s Scale For Good packaging and recycling commitment, which has the goal that by 2025 100 percent of guest packaging will be made from renewable, recycled or certified sources, and packaging will be recycled in 100 percent of restaurants.

As the operator of Australia’s leading cup recycling programme, Simply Cups is excited to commence the trial with McDonald’s in New Zealand.

"Consumers want to recycle, we just need to make it easier for them to do it", says Rob Pascoe, Managing Director of Closed Loop who run the Simply Cups programme. "In Australia, the program has grown exponentially, with more than seven million cups diverted from landfill at a current rate of more than half a million cups per month."

"Simply Cups collection stations will be placed in McDonald's restaurants, allowing customers to easily separate their lids, liquids and ice, and cups into separate waste tubes," says Pascoe. "We are really excited to be partnering with McDonald's and Huhtamaki to help solve one of New Zealand's highest profile waste problems."

 “Understanding what food packaging can and can’t be recycled and the correct method of disposal is complex,” explains Brad Kerle from Huhtamaki. “We initially looked at recycling the hot drink cups, and then identified there could be an opportunity to extract the fibre from the cold cups as well. The sustainably-sourced fibre in McDonald’s cups is of excellent quality and can be recycled up to seven times. Huhtamaki supplies McDonald’s cups and operates a pulp recycling plant in Auckland where new moulded products are produced that can be used in the McDonald’s system.”

The trial will start with restaurants in proximity to Huhtamaki’s pulp recycling plant, with plans to extend once initial learnings have been assessed. The trial restaurants are:

-          Greenlane

-          Manukau City

-          Botany

-          Mangere

-          Otara

-          Otahuhu

Both McDonald’s and Huhtamaki are long term members of the Packaging Council of New Zealand and executive director Sharon Humphries is delighted to see the two companies working together.

“It is now well understood that collaboration will be the key to transitioning to a circular economy. It is fantastic to see two local companies, of iconic global businesses, unlocking solutions, together, here in New Zealand.”

McDonald’s moved to a ‘straws on request’ policy in 2018 and has been trialling fibre-based straws since early 2019.


For more information please contact:

Tom Ronaldson: Mango Communications
Tel:  021 127 9602/ Email:

About McDonald’s New Zealand

New Zealand’s first McDonald’s restaurant opened in Porirua in 1976.  Today there are over 170 McDonald’s restaurants across New Zealand, 85 per cent of which are owned and operated by local business men and women.  The organisation employs over 10,000 people in restaurants nationwide, and is one of New Zealand’s largest employers of youth. In 2018 McDonald’s spent more than $170 million with local suppliers, while New Zealand producers exported over $170 million of food to other McDonald’s markets around the world. McDonald’s is the primary supporter of Ronald McDonald House Charities New Zealand, who keep families close while their children are in hospital.

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