The “Plan Mascarillas” program, developed by Arcos Dorados and the Technological Development Unit of the UdeC, was developed in 15 McDonald’s restaurants.

The initiative succeeded in recovering 170 kilos of masks in one year, which were transformed into 430 plastic trays that will be integrated into the chain’s operation.

The course of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the entire fast food industry to strengthen its safety processes.

The use of facemasks by employees was one of the main methods of preventing infection. For this reason, its use became part of the regular safety protocols in McDonald’s restaurants.

However, their period of use is short and, as waste, they cause major environmental problems because, due to their composition, they do not degrade.

Faced with this issue, Arcos Dorados, the company that operates McDonald’s in Chile, formed an alliance with one of the main centers of research and innovation in bioeconomy: the Technological Development Unit (UDT) of the University of Concepción.

The goal: to develop a program to give a second life to the disposable masks used in 15 McDonald’s restaurants in the Biobío Region and the Metropolitan Region.

“We are a unique R&D center in Chile. The trust that an international company, such as Arcos Dorados, has placed in our circular economy project fills us with pride. We have been working for more than 20 years in research and technological innovation to recover materials and promote the generation of environmental solutions that are a contribution to companies and society, with a view to building a better future,” said Alex Berg, executive director of the Technological Development Unit (UDT).

The initiative called “Plan Mascarillas” made Arcos Dorados the first company in the fast food industry to proactively develop solutions to this environmental problem. It managed to recover more than 42,600 masks in one year.

All of them added up to 170 kilos of material, which the UDT transformed – in this first work cycle – into 431 trays that will be returned to the same restaurants that promoted the initiative.

“As Arcos Dorados, we developed the Mask Plan program for the effective collection of masks in 15 of our restaurants. Undoubtedly, the support of our employees has been fundamental to achieve the great results we are presenting today in terms of circular economy. This initiative will continue to grow, always with the idea of adding environmental actions to our Recipe of the Future and promoting the modernization of our industry,” said Lorena Talma, Corporate Communications Manager of Arcos Dorados Chile.

Arcos Dorados’ “Mask Plan” is part of the company’s socio-environmental strategy “Recipe of the Future”. Through this, the chain develops and adds, every year, different initiatives for the construction of an increasingly sustainable industry.

Among these actions is the annual recovery of about 360 tons of oil to be transformed into raw material for biodiesel; the constant reduction of single-use plastics and polluting elements; and a long history of initiatives for the welfare of the community.

Among the latter, the successful “Recycle your cigarette butt” program developed in partnership with IMEKO specialists stands out. With this idea, the chain took its recycling experience to La Serena, where it has a long-standing alliance with the municipality.

Thanks to this action, developed four years ago, the entry of more than 35 thousand cigarette butts into the ecosystem of the area was avoided and, this year, Coquimbo also joined the initiative, thanks to the successful regional results. McDonald’s “Recipe of the Future” continues to grow.

Source: Press release Arcos Dorados