From January 1, the Agec law will ban single-use tableware for on-site catering.
Farewell bags with fries, coke glasses, sundaes and other cardboard burger boxes. In a few months, they will be replaced by their reusable equivalents in all McDonald’s restaurants in France. For fries, the brand had ceramic bags designed, still in their red and yellow colors; Drinks and sundaes are served in glass containers flanked by the brand’s iconic ‘M’; For burgers, recyclable paper packaging will replace single-use boxes.
From 1ah Next January, the Agec (Anti-Waste for a Circular Economy) law will ban single-use tableware (even if it’s made of cardboard) in fast-food establishments with more than 20 covers for on-site meals. With less than five months to go before that pivotal date, McDonald’s appears to have refined its reusable tableware strategy.
A size that the brand is eagerly awaited: with around 1,500 restaurants in France, it is the undisputed market leader in the fast food sector. In 2017, it was recognized by the Zero Waste France association for its waste management: almost 115 tons of single-use packaging is used in France every day, or 42,000 tons a year. According to Ademe, the fast food sector produces up to 220,000 tons per year.
After the passage of the Agec law in 2020, the company had taken radical measures to respond, for example, to the ban on plastic straws: as of 2019, it had simply decided not to distribute straw at all, and modified the lid of its drinks with it to its customers her soda without having to remove it. McDo had continued by removing the plastic lids. She replaced some salad bowls with molded fiber models, disposable plastic cutlery with wooden cutlery, and even eliminated plastic toys from her children’s menu…
What was left was the disposable tableware and the packaging. A move that is much more difficult to implement, especially since it breaks with what made McDonald’s success in its early days: simple and recognizable packaging, disposable after use. For this small revolution, the brand has strove to innovate, despite more than discreet communication.
40% less waste
The new methods were tested for several months in more than twenty restaurants across France, such as in Châtelet-en-Brie (Seine-et-Marne), where in June the restaurant presented its new tableware with the installation of a dive. According to his manager, the transformation would mean 40% less waste. “We’ve experimented with several solutions and believe we’ve found the one that works best with reusable tableware. confides a spokesman for the brand. But it remains to organize the operation everywhere in France. We prefer to communicate nationally once it is up and running.”
We’ve experimented with several solutions and think we’ve found the one that works best with reusable tableware
A spokesman, McDonald’s
Ultimately, these packaging savings could avoid 8,000 tons of waste per year. As part of the Zero Plastic strategy championed by the brand, this could result in a reduction to 10,000 tonnes less plastic.
Much remains to be done to equip the 1500 McDonalds in France. We have not switched to reusable packaging in most Parisian restaurants. Probably because it involves taking precautions in the kitchen, which is difficult when space is at a premium. “In the city it is probably complicated or sometimes even impossible to move the walls, not to mention the problems sometimes associated with architectural constraints, explains Steeve Broutin, specialist in these questions, on the specialized site Snacking.fr. Cost may seem just as important: getting a sink, hiring extra staff…” So far, most restaurants switching to reusable packaging are located on the outskirts of major cities or in lower-density areas.
It can be difficult for restaurants to get a return on their investment. Customers are used to throwing away packaging. You might do the same with glass jars, or you might be tempted to steal them. What to worry about is up to 25% loss. A problem that, according to some specialists, a deposit system could solve. It will still be necessary to convince customers to drop a few tens of cents before drinking their coke and tasting their sundae…