MacDonald's Large Cup of Coffee and the Circular and Sustainable Economy

a small introduction on how to extend the circular economy into the everyday life of an individual citizen...

During the past year, yes it has already passed four complete seasons since the #Covid started (or lockdown for some). And during that time, I’ve been enjoying a daily walk to the nearest MacDonald’s where I live, mainly to stretch my legs and as an excuse to get out of prison home has become. It can be a boring place and is defiantly a too repetitive environment to be that many hours per day. The usual drink I order from the POS ordering machine is a Large Cappuccino. To this date, I continue on doing so, in spite of the exorbitant price for a cappuccino one has to pay, just to drink 25cc of blurred water in a cup!

There’s a large square at that place with a stone-built church, where I sit for a while and drink my coffee & milk. While there, I recover my energies from a 25-30min walk and think about returning back home. During that period of leisure, many things can be observed happening at each passing moment. People walking by, at different walking rhythms. In a group, walking and talking, or simply for groceries on a nearby supermarket. The church bells singing from time to time is also something that needs to be physically experienced, if not, only because of the occasional different melodies echoing at the square.

However, today I’m writing about a cardboard-like cup of coffee. In particular, the one the reader can see in the photo above. Last time, instead of throwing it into the trash, at the square, I decided to bring it back home with me. Is undeniable to anyone, the cup MacDonald’s serves, feels, and looks high quality, not only that, is environmentally friendly and above all, keeps your hands from burning from the hot coffee inside while at the same time keeping them warm. All good and positive things can be written about this cardboard-like cup when one puts the price aside for a while.

Not every day during the week, on my usual daily walk, the route take the same path or direction, and since it’s wintertime here in Belgium, it really feels great the idea of preparing a hot drink before leaving the house for a walk. The photo above was taken after 3 refills, including the one at MacDonald’s. In between, a wash and cleaning for the next refill, bring the total usage to 5 times. And this last time I don’t consider it to be in good condition to be used on for the next refill. As is clearly shown in that photo, the junction line that results from the manufacturing process of the cup is showing signs of degradation, not only that, signs of being less hygienic for its intended purpose. So, I feel obliged, once again, to throw it into the trash. This time at home, and costing me a small volume inside the purposefully bought trash bag.

However, I do like that particular cup for a takeout drink. On top of keeping your hands warm, it has a cap on top to avoid accidental spilling. And since I’m a somewhat regular client at MacDonald’s, I’m finding at this moment, more can be done on that cup, and mutually benefit both parties, Macdonalds gets a frequent client, and I save in my digital wallet. Why not, and keeping a mindset beyond a Holist Approach, again why not, improve the manufacturing process of the cup, using the same raw materials, and extend its durability to allow regular daily usage at a family home for an extended period of time. For instance, extend its durability to an equivalent usage for 6 months of everyday refills? The environment is valued even further (thank you, Greta Thunberg) while at the same time promoting a culture of actively recycling materials into the new economic paradigm, also known as Circular Economy for some: before ending this article, here’s a quick visual graph for those less acquainted with the definition and its meanings.

At the end of it, is the promotion of a healthier lifetyle, while at the same time lowering even further the monthly expenses at any family home (for the end consumer user). And in terms of the material’s durability and life cycle, its usage time (duration) is increased without the need to add new additional raw materials into the production assembly line.

Until next time, don’t forget to share, and if possible, subscribe for fairness of work1 and a fairer economy, or instead buy me a coffee and promote at the same time open source writing.


this particular article took me approximately 2H of my time to write it.