Make a purchase at any fast food restaurant, and it’s impossible not to notice the packaging waste generated. Usually, there’s the cup, the cover to the cup, the straw, the paper/plastic/box the food is wrapped in, the stack of napkins . . .
Why can’t fast food restaurants develop a “greener” way to package their products?
Fortunately, some are taking significant steps in that direction.
Last week, Dogwood Alliance released “Greening Fast Food Packaging: A Roadmap to Best Practices,” a report which
- outlines eight key attributes of environmentally friendly fast food packaging,
- highlights fast food industry leaders that are implementing key initiatives to help move the entire sector toward more sustainable packaging,
- provides simple guidance on how to assess environmental impacts in the supply chain, and
- offers a valuable action plan to focus corporate sustainability efforts.
- Starbucks has committed to reducing the overall use of packaging and pushed the FDA to increase the maximum allowable recycled content in food grade packaging.
- McDonald’s has adopted an industry leading environmental packaging policy that includes both continued progress on the increased use of recycled fiber and a comprehensive approach to its non-recycled paper packaging. That commitment eliminates fiber coming from the conversion of natural forests to plantations and gives a clear preference to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper, the only paper certification broadly endorsed by the environmental community.
Most fast food packaging is comprised of paper, and paper production is known to have destructive impacts to forests and communities. Dogwood Alliance believes the work begins when corporate leadership adopts an environmental paper packaging policy that includes reduction in overall use of packaging, increase in use of recycled fiber and elimination of controversial sources of paper, including fiber from endangered forests, and natural forests converted to tree plantations.
In addition to highlighting the key issues associated with paper packaging, the report highlights other key attributes to sustainable packaging, including corporate leadership, utilizing a full life cycle approach, increasing in-store recycling and recovery, eliminating toxic inks and labels and managing the overall carbon footprint.
“We hope that by boiling down complex issues into a straightforward, stepwise action plan, companies can make progress on their packaging, creating a win-win for our forests and the corporate bottom-line,” said Scot Quaranda, Campaign Director at Dogwood Alliance and one of the report’s authors. “By following our roadmap and working with experts in key areas associated with the packaging supply chain, more companies can lead rather than lag further behind.”