BOSTON — McDonald's Corp. said its restaurants in New England would join forces with a consortium of chemical companies to launch a major recycling effort for plastic food containers.
McDonald's is undertaking the program with National Polystyrene Recycling Co., a joint venture formed earlier this year by several leading producers of plastics, including Amoco Chemical Co., Dow Chemical Co. and ARCO Chemical Co.
Polystyrene products, which are not biodegradable, have received criticism around the country, as more than a dozen cities have enacted bans on the products.
But officials who spoke at a news conference at a downtown McDonald's said garbage problems cannot be solved simply by switching to more biodegradable materials.
"Where we have a shortage of space in landfills, the solution lies in putting in less," said Shelby Yastrow, McDonald's senior vice president.
The company said it plans to establish four other regional recycling centers by the end of 1990. These centers are planned for Chicago, Philadelphia, Southern California and the San Francisco area.
Under the program with McDonald's, restaurant customers will be asked to place their polystyrene foam containers, utensils, salad containers, hot drink and sundae cups in special trash bins marked "for recyclable plastic only."
After the material is taken to the Leominster plant, it will be turned into plastic resins, which then will be sold to companies that manufacture plastic products.
Based on initial tests, McDonald's expects 70% of its polystyrene waste products will be turned in for recycling.