21 December 2021
McDonald’s Germany will introduce a deposit system on its reusable cups in 2022. The litter around McDonald’s branches is legendary, despite more being cleared up now than before. Many customers do not dispose of their rubbish properly in the waste bins and not all of them will ever do so. Imposing a deposit system on the packaging is then an extremely effective way to address litter and the waste of materials.
So it is good news that McDonald’s in Germany will introduce a deposit system. What is McDonald’s the Netherlands doing?
AS QUIET AS A MOUSE
McDonald’s the Netherlands itself says that it is ambitious in reducing litter and new materials usage, but is keeping as quiet as a mouse about the German deposit system.
McDonald’s the Netherlands’ website does explain (in Dutch) what the fast food chain intends to do about litter in the future. The first strategy is called ‘collecting all our waste’ and the second ‘making all packaging more sustainable’. In 2019, 92% of the waste in the restaurants and surroundings is said to be collected. The target for next year, 2022, is 100%. Apart from this, all packaging must be recyclable by 2025. Plastic is more and more replaced by paper – the McFlurry and McKroket packaging now contain no more plastic.
100% LESS WASTE IN 2022
McDonald’s the Netherlands upholds four strategies (in Dutch) to reach the goal of 100% waste reduction.
- Bottle deposit on small plastic bottles (15 cent). It did not think up this strategy itself. This is a Government requirement and has been in effect since July.
- Smart packaging. The move from plastic packaging to paper packaging makes recycling easier and reduces plastic pollution. With due pride, McDonald’s announced that plastic straws have been replaced by paper straws, but it does not say that this too has been a legal requirement since July.
- Fewer plastic lids on drinking cups. These are often not even needed. Forty percent of the lids that are still being used are made of recycled PET.
- Post-separation of the collected waste. Complete post-separation in 2023 means that paper and plastic will be recycled better.
However, McDonald’s does not give any indication that its 100% target will be achieved through these steps. The chance that the target is achieved would be much greater if there would be a financial stimulus for consumers to return the waste.
MCDONALD’S IN GERMANY INTRODUCES A DEPOSIT SYSTEM ON PACKAGING
McDonald’s in Germany too has a site (in German) in which its mission is explained. And it contains a strategy that is missing from the Dutch site: a deposit system on its own packaging. The system trials (in German) at 10 German McDonald’s branches started last month.
The returned packaging is recycled and used to make other products. While this is better than disposing of it, it is less good than reusing the packaging. After the test phase, the deposit system will be introduced to all McDonald’s branches in Germany by the end of 2022.
MEASURES BECAUSE IT IS MANDATORY
McDonald’s in Germany says that its own deposit system is being introduced in anticipation of it being legally required in 2023. In the Netherlands, a deposit system on fast food packaging is exempted from legislation. However, measures to reduce the use of single-use plastic cups and food packaging will be introduced. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management produced this information flyer (in Dutch). For on-site consumption reuse will be the norm (cups and plates must be washed and reused) or will be collected for high value recycling. For take-away, the cups and food packaging may not be given free of charge. But how McDonald’s will act on the announced measures is not written anywhere.
THE BEST OPTION
Why is the fast food chain only taking action when regulation is unavoidable? It would be to McDonald’s the Netherlands’ advantage to loudly announce that the concern is choosing the option that produces the least amount of litter itself: a deposit system on cups and food packaging. Not to make other products, but to wash them for reuse. Furthermore, use cups and food packaging that can be returned to any branch. And a significant discount for anyone who brings their own cups and containers!
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