McToxics was a national grassroots campaign aimed at getting McDonald's to stop using styrofoam packaging. The campaign began on August 1, 1987 when Vermonters Organized for Cleanup launched a series of actions to ban the use of foam food packaging in Vermont and was later co-ordinated by the Citizens Clearinghouse on Hazardous Waste (CCHW) . The Vermont acions were followed by a nationwide picket of McDonald's restaurants. Campaigners were concerned because:-
The campaign continued to grow. Grassroots Environmental activists, students, churches, animal rights activists and advocates of healthy foods targeted the use of styrofoam as the most conspicuous symbol of the company's wastefulness. Groups picketed restaurants, fought for local ordinances banning styrofoam, launched boycotts and engaged in "send-it-back" campaigns returning McDonald's packaging to its corporate bosses.
McDonald's initial response was to turn to its public relations department. The company's public relations flacks made ridiculous claims, such as "Foam packaging is good for landfill, it aerates the soil." It was suggested that each store could have its own small incinerator but the prototype was exposed in Chicago by Greenpeace and was closed due to objections from the local community. McDonald's also claimed to be committed to recycling despie evidence that this was impractical. One plastics recycler, unable to handle McDonald's foam, returned several tons to the company along with a bill to cover the cost of controlling rodents attracted by half eaten burgers. The company HQ mailroom in Oak Brook also got a vermin problem as "Send-it-Back" foam piled up.
Finally on November 1 1990 McDonald's capitulated. Vice President, Shelby Yastrow said McDonald's would phase-out most styrofoam use and reduce their solid waste output by 90%. President Ed Rensi downplayed environmental concerns, claiming "Our customers just don't feel good about [styrofoam]." Many other fast food chains followed suit.
Article based on evidence given by Brian Lipsett at the McLibel trial