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In France, Burger King, Starbucks, Subway and McDonald’s partake in a new waste-reduction law that bans single-use plates, boxes, cups and tableware from being used inside the restaurant. This law went into effect on January 1.
According to The Guardian, in France alone, about 30 000 fast-food restaurants provide six billion meals every year which generates around 180 000 tonnes of garbage. More than 50% of that waste was generated by people eating inside the restaurant. This new law requires that any restaurant with more than 20 seats have to provide reusable, washable cups, plates, dishes and utensils for the people eating in.
“We’re extremely happy that this is finally coming into force,” said Alice Elfassi, head of legal affairs for the NGO Zero Waste France, which pressed for the measure in a law that was presented in 2020 but allowed companies until 2023 to prepare. “Fast food is a sector that produces a lot of waste. Although single-use plastic had already been banned, it had been replaced by large amounts of throwaway products like cardboard, wood, bamboo, which we consider an unacceptable waste of resources.”
The start-up Zero Waste France together with other organizations are putting pressure on the government to control if fast-food restaurants are following the law and if they don’t give them fines.
“Most fast-food restaurants won’t switch to classic, long-wearing glass or china that lasts years, they will opt for hard plastic and we have concerns about its durability – will it withstand hundreds of washes or will it be thrown out after only a few? We’ll be vigilant on that,” Elfassi said.
Many of the fast-food chains are adapting to this law and according to different environmental groups in France, this is a “complete paradigm shift for the industry”.