Picture are Horseshoe Trails student volunteers Kaitlin Barther, Lily Barther, and Conner Lundberg working in the school garden.

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Horseshoe Trails Elementary partners with McDonald’s for recycling program


CAVE CREEK – Horseshoe Trails Elementary and McDonald’s of Cave Creek are working together to help the school’s garden grow. 

As part of 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. Horseshoe Trails, in the Cave Creek Unified School District, is partnering with the McDonald’s located at Tatum Blvd. and Cave Creek Road to recycle coffee grounds for their garden. 

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 McCafé 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.  

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, adding up to 11,000 lbs. per year.  

 “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 percent 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 percent 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 percent 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.