Fast food, slow litter

It is fairly well-known that McDonalds takes its litter responsibilities seriously. One of the obligations of every outlet is to carry out a litter pick to a radius of 100 metres of the outlet 3 times a day – and they pick up all the litter they find, not just McLitter. And many outlets do more than that.

Greggs the Bakers have also made welcome moves to tackle the litter problem involving their products. Greggs are ardent participators in Keep Britain Tidy’s “Big Tidy Up” campaign and Greggs staff have seriously taken to the task and love going out on their litter picks.

“That’s all very well”, I hear you say. “McDonalds and Greggs are large businesses that can issue such edicts from the centre and the staff will do what they’re told”.

Well – I would like to give you a glimpse of what can be achieved on a local scale if you decide that involving the fast food outlets in a local campaign against litter will help to overcome the problem. And who can deny that tackling fast food litter will, in itself, be a major step forward in tackling the litter problem as a whole ?

While most people, even those who live in a rural setting, see plenty of fast food litter (our nearest McDonalds and Burger King are at least 12 miles away and yet we not infrequently see their products littered in the village and around the lanes).

I recently attended the Keep Britain Tidy conference at which various awards were given out. The overall winner turned out to be Braintree District Council which is working with their local McDonalds to implement a simple but very effective scheme – at the drive-thru, staff write the car’s registration on the McDonalds receipt and pop it into the brown paper bag with the food. This means that, if the bag full of rubbish is chucked out of the car (in which case the receipt is more than likely still to be in the bag), the culprit is traceable via the car’s registration number.

I also hear that in Devizes, Wiltshire, the Town Council has asked the local fast food outlets to help the town tidy up in preparation for the South West in Bloom contest in the summer. Pizza boxes, because of their size, constitute a major challenge in terms of littering and so Domino’s Pizza have paid for a new litter bin to be installed outside their shop with openings large enough to take pizza boxes. This has also meant that the bin it replaced can be moved and used to better effect somewhere else.

So I urge you – if you have a fast food litter problem where you live – talk to your council about it but, in particular, go along and have a constructive, friendly and, above all, creative chat with some of your local fast food outlets. You may, at the very least, slow down the rate of fast food littering.

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