McDonald's trash canA McDonald’s composting initiative is going to the dump.Photo: bhamsandwich via Flickr

UPDATE: Happy April Fools’ Day! We’ve pulled your leg. Look who else is laughing: McDonald’s on Twitter.

McDonald’s announced this morning that it would discontinue plans for a worldwide composting initiative after scientists confirmed that no item on the McDonald’s menu is compostable.

The plan to keep food waste — more than 1.5 billion tons a month — out of landfills would have been the largest composting program in the world, with bright green composting bins at all the 31,000-plus restaurants around the world.

But McDonald’s halted the plan after scientists at the University of California-Berkeley discovered that none of the items on the McDonald’s menu would compost in the next 500 years, nor would any start breaking down for an estimated 1,000 years, the projected life span of a plastic bag.

“To be honest, this food is better off in a landfill.” said lead researcher Donald MacGregor, from the University of California-Berkeley, on a press call early this morning. “It would get in the way of perfectly good compostable materials. Additionally, gardeners disliked the highly acidic leaching of the non-composting Big Macs in field tests.”

McDonald’s says it has no plans to reconsider the idea. However, company officials will be considering other waste management options, such as incineration and outer-atmospheric storage.

“It would have been great for McDonald’s to lead the way on corporate composting,” said McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner at a press conference today outside the fast food giant’s headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois. “We had to make a tough decision, but in the end I think we made the right one for us and for the environment.”

A source at Greenpeace says today’s announcement is “extremely disturbing.” The group plans to launch a campaign to get McDonald’s to overhaul its menu.