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Swedes Can Now Pay For Their Big Macs With Empty Cans

McDonald's turns garbage into legal tender for a Swedish promotion that trades bags of empty cans for burgers.

It's a pretty common sight to see teens huddled near a fast food counter, pooling their change to buy some fries or a burger to share. Scrounging for snacks is a right of passage for many young people.

In Sweden, McDonald's and agency DDB Stockholm found a way to help the environment and help people afford more burgers by allowing consumers to pay for food with empty cans. Billboards around Stockholm announcing the campaign had a roll of black plastic bags attached, each with a custom price list on it. One recycled can is worth 1 Krona, so a hamburger or cheeseburger cost 10 cans and 40 cans would get you a Big Mac.

Click to expandPhoto: courtesy of DDB Stockholm

DDB Stockholm creative Simon Higby says the challenge was to get young people into McDonalds after the summer festivals or hot days in the park. "Youngsters don't always have so much cash, but sometimes they can get empty cans," he says. "So, accepting cans in return for burgers gets them to McDonald's and the cans to the recycling depot. Everyone's happy."

It's just the latest example of a brand using recycling as a selling point. Remember when Coke made an arcade game powered by plastic bottles? If you can attract consumers by making them feel like there's a bit of good attached to the act of buying, you're winning, and for a place selling burgers, that's a pretty solid accomplishment.

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10 Comments

  • Veera Severus Salminen

    I agree with everyone who says people should rather return their empty cans to grocery stores and skip McDonald's altogether!

  • David Rasmusson

    We've had the deposit system for cans and bottles forever here in Sweden. As Dag said, SEK 1 is added to the price whenever we buy something and it can be refunded in most grocery stores. So instead of making the kids that the cans there and then go buy their junk food, McDonalds does it for them.

  • This is awesome...imagine the impact that would have on the homeless population. Then again, they might prefer getting cash in hand from a local supermarket for their cans - although I doubt that the cash they receive for 10 cans will be enough to purchase much. Cool idea nonetheless!

  • Dag Lindwall

    Yeah as Iván said, you can recycle the cans for cash at most supermarkets and you see people do that all the time. I think it's 1 krona for cans and small plastic bottles and 2-4 kronor for large plastic bottles. That price is added to the price of the drink when you buy it to add some incentive for people to recycle because they get that extra cash back when they do.

    10 kronor = ~$1.50

  • The money you get for each can is one swedish crown, the hamburger is 10 crowns so the can would be just another one crown kind of coin.