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France bans Single use Plates and cups in Fast Food Restaurants

France bans Single use Plates and cups in Fast Food Restaurants

Fast food restaurants in France are no longer allowed to serve chips, drink, pizza, coffee or salads in cardboard containers that are then thrown in the trash. France has become the first European country to ban single-use crockery, a measure to pollute less. From January 1, fast food restaurants with more than twenty seats are required to use reusable plates, glasses, and cutlery, which can go in the dishwasher. Only paper and cardboard packaging are allowed for food that the customer takes home.

The rule has meant a big change for multinationals with a presence in the country such as McDonald's, Burger King, KFC or Domino's Pizza, which have been forced to change their operating model, replacing single-use crockery with plastic or porcelain crockery, putting dishwashers in the kitchens and modifying the furniture where the trash is located, where the customer leaves the tray before leaving. In many cases, more staff have also been hired.

fast food restaurants

The multinationals have not made public the cost to adapt to the new law, but, as McDonald's chain sources explain to the ARA, the changes have led to "significant operational and financial challenges". The BFMTV chain assures that the cost rises to 100 million euros. In addition, it has taken two years "to test different options, prepare the equipment and invest massively" to implement the changes required by the new rule, and between one and two more people have been hired for each restaurant. Since last year, some of the brand's restaurants had already tested the new reusable crockery, and since this week most have already fully adapted to the law. According to the chain, they are 90% of McDonald's in France.

Plastic cups and papers

Paris is where most of the restaurants of the various fast food multinationals that have not arrived in time to make the necessary changes are concentrated. ARA has visited four fast food outlets from two different chains in the city and only one operated with recyclable crockery, the McDonald's de la Madeleine. The company has chosen red plastic wrappers for chips, clear plastic cups, white plastic bowls for salads, and porcelain cups for coffee. The burgers are no longer served in cardboard boxes but are wrapped in paper, the only disposable item allowed to prevent the sandwiches from cooling too quickly.

Before leaving, the customer needs more time than before to leave everything in the right place and queues even form at peak times: there is a hole in the furniture to leave the empty crockery - which will be washed at 60 Cº, as specified – but before that the liquid and leftover food must be emptied. You must also leave the paper packaging in another hole. The instructions are in three languages, French, English, and Spanish, and the chain's staff stop by from time to time to help a customer who doesn't quite understand where to put everything.

Customers who take their crockery with them

In the early days of operation with reusable tableware, restaurants have encountered an added problem: there are customers who decide to take home plates and glasses. The French press has uncovered the phenomenon, but McDonald's (the chain with the most fast food in France) has not wanted to comment on the matter. According to the newspaper Le Parisien, quoting sources from the multinational, the thefts occur mainly in restaurants located in tourist spots – the crockery has been created exclusively for France – and the company is confident that over time they will decrease. If this is not the case, one alternative would be to have the customer pay a deposit, as is done at concerts and sporting events. But for now, McDonald's prefers not to start it, given that the measure would force them to hire more staff and that the customers would make another queue before leaving the establishment.

According to the French government, the fast food sector in the country produces between 180,000 and 220,000 tonnes of waste from plates, cups, and cardboard packaging every year. "The circular economy is the key: changing our production and consumption model to limit our waste, waste less and protect biodiversity," defended the Minister of Ecological Transition, Christophe Béchu, on Twitter.

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