Packaging design over decades: every three to four years the fast-food chain changes the look and feel of its packaging. The last make-over took place in 2016 with gaudy colours, big lettering and a clear segmentation. Photo: McDonald’s Deutschland LLC
At the same time, they stay true to themselves. The shape of the word mark – the golden “M” – has not been changed since the seventies. To ensure global recognition the packaging design for different markets is similar. Size and shape are very similar since kitchen processes are similar, too. The folding boxes, bags, cups and the like must be designed in such a way that they can easily be identified and assigned to the corresponding products in no time.
McDonald’s last make-over of its food packaging was staged spectacularly in 2016. Photo: Juan Pablo Castro for McDonald’s
Protection, Information and Design
The packaging of their hamburgers, wraps, French fries, beverages and desserts all serve different functions. The envelope design serves product presentation on the one hand, but also features information for guests – such as the nutritional values of the product or a “hot” warning.
First and foremost, however, it is about the protection of the freshly prepared products. They are meant to reach the diners hot and undamaged.
Increase the Recycling Rate
Also important to the American combine is the sustainability and recycling of packaging. By 2025 only packaging materials of renewable, recycled or certified sources are to be used and all retail packaging is to be reused in all McDonald’s countries worldwide.
It’s amazing what you can do with packaging ... for the fast-food giant packaging primarily serves to protect food; then to provide consumer information and ensure recognition for both consumers and employees. Photo: McDonald’s
In Germany, some 70% of packaging is already recycled today. 100% of the fresh fibre used for packaging have already been derived from sustainable forestry (with FSC or PEFC seal) since 2015, and the other recyclables are separated, collected and returned to the materials cycle by the staff at the restaurants.
On top of this, various measures have been undertaken in Germany to reduce the amount of packaging material. In the “restaurants of the future” for example, that offer a special selection of digital interaction with customers and an extended, individual choice of products, hot beverages for on-site consumption are served in glass and chinaware.
By 2025 McDonald’s wants to use packaging materials from renewable, recycled or certified sources only and to reuse all retail packaging. Photo: McDonald’s Deutschland LLC
Since 2016 you can have take-away coffee filled into your own, clean containers and get a 10% discount on each beverage. Since late April 2018 McDonald’s has been testing participation in the Recup system together with its franchisee Adriaan Hendrikx in Augsburg. This deposit system allows customers to have their coffee served in beakers and to return or exchange these for a clean cup at any of the participating partner outlets.