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Burger King and McDonald’s Testing Reusable Fast Food Packaging

In this article:

  • Loop’s reusable packaging is being tested by the biggest names in fast food.
  • If it works for McDonald’s and Burger King, that would cut down a great deal on the waste of disposables.
  • Would these brands use it to strengthen customer relationships?

“Your favorite products are now zero-waste!” is the tagline of the Loop program for reusing packaging for everyday items normally sold in jars, plastic containers, and now styrofoam that had been designed for single-use.

A Wall Street Journal article reports that Burger King is testing out in locations in New York City and Tokyo, while McDonald’s rolled out reusable cups in some UK locations this past summer. If these programs take off, they can help these brands make a serious dent in the waste generated by disposables and win some love from those who value sustainability.

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That part of the equation has been working for McDonald’s. Beth Hart, vice president overseeing supply chain and brand trust at McDonald’s U.K. and Ireland, observed in the WSJ article: “‘We’re halfway through the trial, and we’ve had some really positive comments from customers.’”

The challenge is getting customers to bring the reusable packages back. The Journal reports that the incentive for Burger King’s customers will be a deposit charged on the containers, though it did not share what that amount is.

The article did include commentary from those who believe too high a container cost — say $5 on an item that costs just over $6 — will make people reluctant to participate. On the other hand, I’d say that too low a price — like the five-cent deposit we still have on plastic bottles — is not enough of an incentive to return a container for recycling.

McDonald’s seemed to hit on a middle ground in putting its deposit cost at a pound, which is about $1.36. It also was mindful of convenience in setting up receptacles around participating supermarkets and having McDonald’s reciprocate by accepting the supermarket containers.

Why We Love It From CRM Standpoint?

When a customer brings a package back – it tells the brand some very valuable zero-data information about them. For example, that they care about sustainability issues. This is precisely the kind of data brands should be able to use when creating further communication touchpoints with customers. A sustainability-driven customer should be treated as such. This requires a strong data foundation, smart segmentation capabilities, and AI-based CRM journey builder to scale and really make the most of – all of which technologies are available nowadays.

The way the system works, the more retailers participate, the better the experience for customers. That’s what Tom Szaky, chief executive and founder of TerraCycle, the company behind Loop observed in the WSJ article. The challenge is to get that snowball started so that it can grow larger. Getting big names in the food industry involved can only help that endeavor.

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