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Breaking New Grounds: Arizona McDonald’s Launches Coffee Grounds Recycling Initiative

McDonald’s restaurants across Arizona are partnering with schools statewide to recycle their used coffee grounds and help school gardens grow as part of the “McCafé School Gardens Grow!,” coffee grounds recycling initiative. The new initiative is part of McDonald’s “Good Neighbor Good Grounds” recycling program, designed to divert used coffee grounds from the waste stream by promoting the reuse of coffee grounds to add nutrients to soil or compost.

According to Phoenix McDonald’s franchisee Dorothy Stingley, 100 schools with the Arizona Department of Education School Garden Program have signed up and are currently utilizing their local McDonald’s coffee grounds in their gardens and composts.  Schools pick up the grounds weekly from their local McDonald’s restaurant.  

“I am very pleased that our office was able to help make the connection between McDonald’s McCafé School Gardens Grow! waste reduction program and our School Garden programs,” said Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. “It is exciting to see these efforts positively impacting schools in so many Arizona communities. This is exactly the type of private-public partnership I would like to see replicated across our state as we look for innovative ways to support our students.”

Stingley stated that Arizona restaurants participating in the school garden coffee grounds recycling program expect to divert thousands of pounds of waste from going into the waste stream.  According to a recent waste assessment audit by  Waste Management, a McDonald’s restaurant has 29.5 lbs. of coffee grounds waste each day or 11,000 lbs. a year. 

“Our McDonald’s restaurants serve a lot of coffee,” said Stingley. “The opportunity to partner with schools in our communities to reduce our coffee grounds waste is a win for everyone.  Concern for the environment is important to us as well as our customers.  We practice responsible coffee sourcing. The majority of our certified coffee purchases are from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms, including 100% of our espresso in the U.S.

Our restaurants work hard to reuse, reduce and recycle,” she continued.  “We also currently recycle used cooking oil in nearly all of our restaurants. Our napkins are made out of 100% recycled content and we are the first in the industry to have the “How2Recycle” label on many of our recyclable packages, bags and clear cups.
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