As of January 1, the Agec law will prohibit single-use crockery for on-site restoration.
French fries parting cones, Coke cups, sundae cups and other hamburger cartons. In a few months, they will be replaced in all McDonald’s restaurants in France by their reusable equivalents. For fries, the brand designed ceramic cones, still in their red and yellow colors; drinks and ice cream will be served in glass containers, flanked by the brand’s iconic “M”; for hamburgers, recyclable paper packaging will replace disposable boxes.
Of 1Ahem Next January, the Agec law (anti-waste for a circular economy) will ban single-use crockery (even cardboard) in fast food establishments with more than 20 lids for meals consumed on the premises. Less than five months before this crucial deadline, McDonald’s appears to have refined its reusable dinnerware strategy.
A move that the brand is eagerly awaiting: with its nearly 1,500 restaurants in France, it is the undisputed leader in fast food. In 2017, the Zero Waste France association highlighted it for its waste management: almost 115 tons of disposable packaging used every day in France, or 42,000 tons per year. According to Ademe, the fast food sector produces up to 220,000 tons a year.
After the approval of the Agec law, in 2020, the firm had taken radical measures, for example to respond to the ban on plastic straws: as of 2019, it had simply decided to stop distributing straws, modifying the lid of its drinks . so your customers can drink their soda without having to remove it. McDo had continued to remove the plastic covers. It replaced some salad bowls with molded fiber models, disposable plastic cutlery with wooden ones, and even eliminated plastic toys from its children’s menu…
The disposable plates and containers remained. A much more difficult step to implement, especially since it breaks with what made the success of McDonald’s in its origins: simple and recognizable packaging, disposable once used. For this small revolution, and despite a more than discreet communication, the brand has sought to innovate.
40% less waste
The new methods have been tested for several months in more than twenty restaurants throughout France, such as in Châtelet-en-Brie (Seine-et-Marne), where the restaurant presented its new crockery in June, with the installation of a dip. According to its manager, the transformation would mean 40% less waste. “We experimented with several solutions and we think we have found the one that works best with reusable tableware, confesses a spokesman for the brand. But it remains to organize the deployment in all parts of France. We prefer to communicate nationally once it is operational.”
We have experimented with various solutions and believe we have found the one that works best with reusable tableware.
A spokesperson, McDonald’s
Ultimately, these packaging savings could prevent 8,000 tons of waste per year. As part of the “zero plastic” strategy advocated by the brand, this could lead to reductions to 10,000 fewer tons of plastic.
Much remains to be done to equip the 1,500 McDonalds in France. In most Parisian restaurants, we have not switched to reusable packaging. Probably because it involves making arrangements in the kitchen, which is difficult when space is at a premium. “In the city, pushing through walls is likely to be difficult or even impossible, not to mention the problems that are sometimes related to architectural constraints, explains Steeve Broutin, a specialist in these issues, on the specialized site Snacking.fr. The cost may seem just as important: the purchase of a sink, the hiring of additional staff…” To date, most restaurants switching to reusable packaging are located on the outskirts of major cities or in lower density areas.
Restaurants can struggle to get a return on their investment. Customers are used to throwing away packaging. They may do the same with glass containers or they may also be tempted to steal them. What to fear up to 25% loss. A problem that a deposit system could solve, according to some specialists. It will still be necessary to convince customers to spend a few tens of cents before drinking their Coke and tasting their ice cream…
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