McDonald's And Starbucks Take Major Steps Toward Cup Sustainability

McDonald's has given a definite timeline to its aspirational goal of eliminating plastic and foam cups from its restaurants. By the end of this year, each soft-drink chalice will be made with fiber-based packaging from certified or recycled sources, according to the company's website. The same redesign is expected for all the brand's packaging by 2020.

The Chicago Tribune notes this is the first time McDonald's has committed to a deadline to completely omit polystyrene cups, which are not environmentally sustainable and are nearly impossible to recycle.

While most of the chain's packaging is already made from paper and cardboard, the company says that eliminating the 2 percent that is foam is a small but important step to becoming more eco-friendly.

Across the pond, Starbucks is trialing a similar action. Customers in the U.K. will be charged about 7 cents for each paper cup in 20 to 25 central London stores in hopes of motivating them to employ reusable mugs. The new charge is slated to begin in February for a testing period of three months.

All money raised by the cup fee will be donated to environmental charity and behavior analyst Hubbub, which will further investigate "how the public can be encouraged to choose reusable drink containers."

As an extra incentive, British Starbucks locations will continue to honor an existing discount of roughly 34 cents offered to patrons with reusable cups.

Also in the U.K., a Scottish politician has launched a region-wide initiative to ban single-use disposable items. According to The Spirits Business, many businesses have already expunged plastic straws from their inventories.

If you're inclined to be mindful of Mother Nature, check out these 20 ways to make your parties more eco-friendly.