Friday, December 18, 2009

McDonald's Bottle Deposit

The McChronicles was perusing a McDonald's receipt while enjoying the new Mac Snack Wrap this week. In the process, we noticed we had paid a 5-cent deposit on our water bottle.

OK - that had slipped by us. We wondered WHEN it was instituted, how we had missed it, etc.

Then, when we were leaving, we wondered what to do with the bottle.

Habit had us simply dropping it into the trash. But, we knew that was the wrong maneuver (sidenote: our community has a very strong recycling program that sorts the stream in a recycling center). We didn't want to be throwing away money.

So, where to put the bottle? A quick scan revealed that there was no redemption center in the McDonald's. So, the only option was to bring the bottle home and put it in our redemption bin (to be brought to a redemption center at a later date).

We wondered how many people actually know they have paid a deposit, and how many people will overcome their habit of tossing the bottle into the trash, and how many people will eventually get the bottle where it belongs.

We mused that it would be very convenient if the McDonald's had an automated redemption machine (like the machines found at WalMart and other places) where we could deposit the bottle and collect a receipt for our 5 cents.

Of course, that creates headaches for the store - they don't exactly have tons of extra space available, nor were they designed for this.

Ultimately, we wonder if bottled water should even be offered. The McChronicles gets it when it comes to bottled water (we "get it" that it's not a clear and simple issue). Bottled water is convenient, trustworthy, portable, and safe (minimized spillage). We also know that tap water is a perfectly good alternative, assuming it is handled cleanly. But we wonder if a cup is any better than a bottle when it comes to recyclability, trash, sustainability, etc. There are pluses and minuses for both positions. We "get it" that there is no simple answer.

At a recent McDonald's "McGreen" event, "Water coolers were available as an alternative to bottled water, reducing bottled water consumption by 25 percent," according to a report by Nancy Mann Jackson. Maybe a water cooler-type of service is the answer?

It is extremely clear that McDonald's is one of the world's leading companies with regard to corporate responsibility and sustainability. As a customer, The McChronicles hopes that McDonald's can show us the way to a better place on this important and confusing issue.