How McDonalds, Subway, and Burger King have responded to the EU's straw ban

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  • The EU’s proposal to crack down on single-use plastics will affect many fast food chains.
  • Utensils such as straws, lids, bowls, and cutlery will eventually need replacing.
  • Some fast food chains seem braced for the changes while others are more cautious.

A number of fast food chains, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and Subway, have their work cut out for them: the EU is clamping down on plastic. Though some fast food chains are now using paper, many are now having to rethink ways of packaging their food.

Though you’ll still find plastic straws in many McDonald’s, Burger Kings, and Subways, the EU’s ban is taking a tough stance on single-use plastics. So far, no one has come up with any alternatives to straws and customers who want to eat plastic-free only have the choice of eating out of a basic cup — without a lid or a straw. Even the paper cups don’t provide non-plastic lids.

Burger King and McDonald’s are still using plastic dishes

In many cases, salad still comes served in plastic dishes and the cutlery that accompanies it is no different. At present, non-plastic trays are nowhere to be seen on the tables of most fast food joints. Everything is currently based almost exclusively on disposable tableware.

But in a few months time, the EU won’t be satisfied with that. Disposable plastic crockery and cutlery, straws and plastic balloon holders are to be banned. According to this, Burger King and McDonald’s would also have to come up with something new for the advertising balloons that children like to use when visiting restaurants.

McDonald’s tests paper straws in Belgium and Great Britain

So far, it seems McDonald’s is taking the change pretty well so far.

“The proposed EU Commission directive goes hand-in-hand with our own goals of increasing recycling rates and reducing packaging in general and plastics in particular,” a spokeswoman for McDonald’s explained to Business Insider. Incidentally, the company wants to reduce plastic usage not only in the EU but worldwide.

“In Germany, the recycling rate of packaging is currently already around 70%,” McDonald’s continues. The chain is already working on finding sustainable solutions for products such as plastic straws, disposable crockery or balloon holders that “simultaneously meet our hygienic and operational requirements in everyday restaurant life”. McDonald’s has already trialled paper straws in Great Britain and Belgium.

In Germany, McDonald’s restaurants have been trying to serve customers hot drinks in glass or porcelain cups.

“Since the end of 2016, customers have also been able to get coffee with a 10% discount by bringing in their own clean cups to take away,” the McDonald’s spokeswoman said.

Since the end of April, a franchise in Augsburg has also been participating in a “Recup” system, where cups can later be reused or handed over to other Recup partners.

Subway wants to “optimise its packaging, trays and napkins.”

The Subway sandwich chain has been more cautious in its statements about its plans for plastics. “We have a responsibility to minimise the resources we’re consuming, the waste we’re generating and the overall impact we’re having on the environment around the world,” a Subway spokesperson told Business Insider. For this reason, they’re currently trying to “optimise” their packaging, trays, and napkins and to improve their packaging designs.

Subway has envisaged that packaging in restaurants should eventually be 100% recyclable. In addition, they want to “increase the amount of recycled materials in paper and plastic packaging”. Should the planned EU ban be accepted, the question is, how exactly will food be served at Subway in the future? Will straws be replaced? Will plastic dishes disappear? Subway is closely following the vote on the EU ban, the chain added.

Burger King will have to say farewell to plastic straws, bowls, and cutlery

Burger King will also have to implement changes in its restaurants if plastic dishes are banned. Here too, customers are still using straws, bowls and cutlery the fast food chain will probably have to do without in the future.

However, the company has not yet made a statement on how this change could look at Burger King.

Read the original article on Business Insider Deutschland. This post originally appeared on Business Insider Deutschland and has been translated from German. Copyright 2018. Follow Business Insider Deutschland on Twitter.

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