Piloted in a pioneering joint initiative between McDonalds and the Local Government Association (LGA) as part of Defra’s Food on the Go programme, early results have shown that the project is delivering a litter reduction of up to 65%.

Defra’s Food on the Go voluntary code of practice encourages partnership agreements for reducing waste between councils and local stores that sell food and drinks to take away. It also includes successful pilot projects and provides recommendations on minimising waste.

“Local councils face a constant battle to keep streets clean, and litter from popular quick service restaurants contributes to this,” said Councillor David Sparks, chair of the LGA’s environment board. “By working together, councils and local businesses can coordinate their activities and pool their resources, giving anti-litter messages and campaigns greater impact.”

Regular litter patrols, sponsored litterbins and in-store messages were some of the activities suggested by Defra’s code of practice. Project partners have also been encouraged to take part in their own clean-up activities, as well as making an effort to reduce their own packaging and waste.

Environmental manager at McDonalds Jessica Sansom told edie that the company was always looking for new ways to engage and promote effective and workable environmental practices.

“The code of practice recognises that businesses themselves do not drop the litter, but that all food retailers must take responsibility by playing their part in improving their local area,” Ms Sansom stated. “We have seen some fantastic improvements in the environmental quality of local areas as a result of our pilot, and I know it was a positive experience for both our restaurants and the councils involved.”

She added that McDonalds was the first restaurant company to introduce litter patrols, and has a long standing litter prevention programme.

Rival restaurant Burger King has also been doing its part to combat litter problems, recently joining with Norwich City Council to form the BK Litter Patrol as part of a local campaign to clean up the debris and litter left behind by customers and pedestrians.

Environment Minister Alun Michael said that the code was good news for the public, businesses and local authorities alike, and would help to make public spaces cleaner, better places to visit, live in and work in.

“Outlets selling fast food are a significant source of much of the litter which blights our streets. But if they can urge their customers to dispose of their litter carefully and take steps to minimise the spread of their waste packaging, it will be a great step forward in the battle to clean-up up our shared spaces,” Mr Michael stated.

“It is a positive move by the industry to want to assist.”

By Jane Kettle

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