Horsehoe Trails recycles McDonald’s coffee grounds in school garden
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Horsehoe Trails recycles McDonald’s coffee grounds in school garden

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  • Rhonda Grundemann/The Grundemann Group

Horseshoe Trails Elementary School Students Add Coffee Grounds Donated From McDonald's To Their School Garden To Add Nutrients To The Soil. Photo Courtesy Cave Creek Unified School District

Arizona McDonald’s is announcing the launch of McCafé School Gardens Grow!,” a coffee grounds recycling initiative.   McDonald’s restaurants are partnering with schools statewide to recycle their used coffee grounds and help school gardens grow.

Cave Creek Unified School District’s Horseshoe Trails Elementary School is partnering with  McDonald’s of Cave Creek to recycle coffee grounds for their garden.

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Horseshoe Trails Elementary School students add coffee grounds donated from McDonald’s to their school garden to add nutrients to the soil. Photo courtesy Cave Creek Unified School District

The new initiative is part of McDonald’s “Good Neighbor Good Grounds” recycling program, designed to divert used coffee grounds from the waste stream by promoting the reuse of coffee grounds to add nutrients to soil or compost.

“Our community partnership with McDonald’s McCafe School Gardens Grow! program is helping us teach our students about the importance of recycling and reducing waste,” said Heather Hannula, Horseshoe Trails parent garden volunteer. “This program provides a role model of environmental consciousness for our students which we are incorporating in our school curriculum and Character Counts program.”

According to Cave Creek McDonald’s owner/operator Dorothy Stingley, 130 schools with the Arizona Dept. of Education School Garden Program have already signed up and are currently utilizing their local McDonald’s coffee grounds in their gardens and composts.  Schools pick up the grounds weekly from their local McDonald’s restaurant.

“I am very pleased that our office was able to help make the connection between McDonald’s McCafé School Gardens Grow! waste reduction program and our School Garden programs,” said Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. “It is exciting to see these efforts positively impacting schools in so many Arizona communities. This is exactly the type of private-public partnership I would like to see replicated across our state as we look for innovative ways to support our students.”

Stingley stated that Arizona restaurants participating in the school garden coffee grounds recycling program expect to divert thousands of pounds of waste from going into the waste stream.  According to a recent waste assessment audit by  Waste Management, a McDonald’s restaurant has 29.5 lbs. of coffee grounds waste each day or 11,000 lbs. a year.

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Horseshoe Trails Elementary parent school garden volunteers Heather Hannula, Tanamas Barther, and Lori Lundberg show some of the coffee grounds donated by McDonald’s that students are using to enrich the soil in their school garden. Photo courtesy Cave Creek Unified School District

“Our McDonald’s restaurants serve a lot of coffee,” said Stingley. “The opportunity to partner with schools in our communities to reduce our coffee grounds waste is a win for everyone.  Concern for the environment is important to us as well as our customers.  We practice responsible coffee sourcing. The majority of our certified coffee purchases are from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms, including 100% of our espresso in the U.S.

Our restaurants work hard to reuse, reduce and recycle,” she continued.  “We also currently recycle used cooking oil in nearly all of our restaurants. Our napkins are made out of 100% recycled content and we are the first in the industry to have the “How2Recycle” label on many of our recyclable packages, bags and clear cups.  We’ve also set a time-bound goal to achieve 100% of our packaging from certified or recycled sources by the year 2020.”

Schools or community gardens interested in participating in the coffee grounds recycling program can call Rhonda Grundemann at 602-739-8810 to be assigned to a local McDonald’s restaurant.

About McDonald’s of Arizona 

The 300 Arizona McDonald’s restaurants employ more than 15,000* people and annually feed $329.5 million into the Arizona economy. We make good food that is served fast, with a focus on responsible sourcing.  Our McDonald’s supply chain includes suppliers of all sizes including family-owned farms and ranches in Arizona. In 2014, McDonald’s spent more than $49.7 million on locally sourced food, purchasing 28.9 million pounds of lettuce, 8.2 million pounds of flour and 16.6 million pounds of beef.

*McDonald’s and McDonald’s independently owned and operated franchisees are equal opportunity employers committed to a diverse and inclusive workforce. McDonald’s and each of McDonald’s independently owned and operated franchisees are the exclusive employer of their employees and as such are solely responsible for all employment related matters in their restaurants.

About McDonald’s

McDonald’s USA, LLC, serves a variety of menu options made with quality ingredients to more than 27 million customers every day. Nearly 90 percent of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by businessmen and women. Customers can now log online for free at approximately 11,500 participating Wi-Fi enabled McDonald’s U.S. restaurants. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

For more information, please contact Rhonda Grundemann with The Grundemann Group at 602-739-8810 or by email at