FoodReference.com Logo

 

FoodReference.com (since 1999)
Food Articles, News & Features Section

 

 

Chef working

  You are here > 

HomeFood ArticlesOrganic, Local & Ethical Foods >  Fast Food Recycling

 

Culinary Schools & Cooking Classes
From Amateur & Basic Cooking Classes to Professional Chef Training & Degrees -  Associates, Bachelors & Masters
More than 1,000 schools & classes listed for all 50 States, Online and Worldwide

 

FREE Food & Beverage Publications
An extensive selection of free magazines and other publications for qualified Food, Beverage & Hospitality professionals

 

Fast Food Recycling

 

2/17/07 - Dear EarthTalk: What are the fast-food chains doing to cut back on--or at least recycle--the huge amount of paper, plastic and foam they use daily? Are there any laws or regulations to force them to be good environmental citizens?
-- Carol Endres, Stroud Township, PA

Currently there are no federal laws or regulations in the U.S. specifically aimed at getting fast food chains to reduce, reuse or recycle their waste. Businesses of all kinds must always obey local laws pertaining to what must be recycled versus what can be discarded. And a small number of cities and towns have local laws specifically designed to force businesses to do the right thing, but they are few and far between.

There have been some strides in the fast food business with regard to packaging materials and waste reduction, but it has all been voluntary and usually under pressure from green groups. McDonald’s made headlines back in 1989 when, at the urging of environmentalists, it switched its hamburger packaging from non-recyclable Styrofoam to recyclable paper wraps and cardboard boxes. The company also replaced its bleached paper carryout bags with unbleached bags and made other green-friendly packaging advances.

Both McDonald’s and PepsiCo (owner of KFC and Taco Bell) have crafted internal policies to address environmental concerns. PepsiCo states that it encourages “conservation of natural resources, recycling, source reduction and pollution control to ensure cleaner air and water and to reduce landfill wastes,” but does not elaborate on specific actions it takes. McDonald’s makes similar general statements and claims to be “actively pursuing the conversion of used cooking oil into biofuels for transportation vehicles, heating, and other purposes,” and pursuing various in-store paper, cardboard, delivery container and pallet recycling programs in Australia, Sweden, Japan and Britain. In Canada the company claims to be the “largest user of recycled paper in our industry” for trays, boxes, carry out bags and drink holders.

Some smaller fast food chains have garnered accolades for their recycling efforts. Arizona-based eegee’s, for instance, earned an Administrator’s Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for recycling all paper, cardboard and polystyrene across its 21-store chain. Besides the positive attention it has generated, the company’s recycling effort also saves it money in garbage disposal fees every month.

Despite such efforts, though, the fast food industry is still a large generator of waste. Some communities are responding by passing local regulations requiring recycling where applicable. Seattle, Washington, for example, passed an ordinance in 2005 prohibiting businesses (all businesses, not just restaurants) from disposing of recyclable paper or cardboard, though violators only pay a nominal $50 fine.

Perhaps policymakers in the U.S. and elsewhere could take a lead from Taiwan, which since 2004 has required its 600 fast-food restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC, to maintain facilities for proper disposal of recyclables by customers. Diners are obliged to deposit their garbage in four separate containers for leftover food, recyclable paper, regular waste and liquids. “Customers only have to spend under a minute to finish the trash-classification assignment,” said environmental protection administrator Hau Lung-bin in announcing the program. Restaurants that don’t comply face fines of up to $8,700 (U.S.).

ET_logo_Sml_4color

CONTACTS: eegee’s, www.eegees.com; Taipei Times, “Restaurants set the new recycling trend,”  www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2004/01/02/2003086025

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit it at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/thisweek/, or e-mail: earthtalk@emagazine.com . Read past columns at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/archives.php
 

RELATED ARTICLES

  Meatless Alternatives   |   U.S. Consumption Habits   |   A Better Food System   |   Is Organic Healthier?   |   Growing Green Awards   |   Sustainable & Organic Farming   |   Ag Report Highlights Organic   |   Bananas & Rainforests   |   Bulk Foods Are Green   |   Canada’s Organic Rules   |   Chicken, Organic Pasture Raised   |   Cow Pies to Clear Skies   |   Local Food & the Environment   |   Eco Friendly Dinnerware   |   Fast Food Recycling   |  Fish, What to Avoid   |   Garlic: California or China?   |   Generation Organic   |   Genetically Engineered Alfalfa   |   Good Food Awards Entries   |   Organic Food Health & Safety   |   Labeling GM Foods: Prop 37 Defeat   |   Local Food & Supermarkets   |   Local or Organic? pg 1   |   Local or Organic? pg 2   |   Location, Location, Location   |   Cow Pea Storage Bags   |   Drip Irrigation   |   Toilet Compost Fertilizer   |   Organic Farming   |   Organic Foods   |   Organic Foods Guide   |   Organic Reduces Cancer Risk   |   Organic Sales Increase   |   Organic Food Health Research   |   Labeling & Cloned Animals   |   Pros & Cons of Biofuels  |   Protein Source Impacts   |   Reverse Trick or Treating   |   Flying Fish Restaurant   |   Slow Food   |   Sustainable Sugars   |   Sustainability Award Winners 2012   |   Sustainable: What is it?   |   Think Globally, Act Locally pg 1   |   Think Globally, Act Locally pg 2  

 

Go to Top of page

  Home   |   About & Contact Us   |   Chef James Bio   |   Website Bibliography   |   Recipe Contests   |   Food Links  

Please feel free to link to any pages of FoodReference.com from your website.
For permission to use any of this content please E-mail: james@foodreference.com
All contents are copyright © 1990 - 2016 James T. Ehler and www.FoodReference.com unless otherwise noted.  All rights reserved.
You may copy and use portions of this website for non-commercial, personal use only.
Any other use of these materials without prior written authorization is not very nice and violates the copyright.
Please take the time to request permission.