From the outside, you might think that nothing has changed. Teenagers still hold in greasy fingers a symbolic red cone with a yellow edge, from which several raw french fries stick out. However, at the McDo on Boulevard Diderot in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, all the cardboard dishes are abandoned.
Goodbye boxes of nuggets, bags of fries and white and yellow cups: make room for a new reusable service. Buyers have not stopped hesitating about sorting bins, as these bins are now made from titanium, a wash-resistant plastic.
From January 1, in all fast food establishments with more than 20 seats, disposable tableware for on-site consumption is prohibited. But on this day there were no marks on the nails. McDonald’s, which has invested 100 million euros and hired one to two additional full-time jobs at each restaurant to comply with the rules, says it has transitioned 1,450 of its 1,530 locations so far.
Penalties, “Ultimate Threat”
Starbucks has been ready since April 1, Burger King says 99% of its locations are updated as of May 30, when KFC will only remodel 62% of its 335 restaurants by the end of June. Progress is being closely monitored by Beranger Couillard, Secretary of State for the Transition to Environmental Affairs, in charge of the case.
Consultations, checks, but also legal reminders and even fines: for six months, the government has been pressuring brands to reveal their action plan to roll out cleaning solutions, site by site. “The imposition of fines is not an end in itself, it is the highest threat for those who do not play the game,” the secretary of state’s entourage explains.
“You Can’t Move Faster Than Music”
“We can’t move faster than the music, especially when it’s not up to us,” defends McDonald’s, which began writing this new music in 2021. For the American brand, the latest challenges are the lack of space for dishwashers and the difficulty of obtaining the necessary building permits.
As for KFC, the company hides behind the deadlines exceeded by their suppliers, but promises to start work before October. Meanwhile, network employees who met at a Paris restaurant admitted to being “in the dark” about the rollout but attending a daily “ball of technicians” who showed up to install pipes and dishwashing equipment. The ministry plans to tighten controls from this month, focusing on the most recalcitrant institutions in June.
What do customers think of this revolution? Self-described ‘greens’, like this German tourist who crossed himself at the Five Guys fast food restaurant, welcome this revolution on set: “There’s a lot more plastic in Germany, you have to take a cue from France. When others don’t even notice. Like Remy, 27, sitting at McDonald’s on the Champs-Elysées, who succinctly declares, “This doesn’t change anything,” either for his experience or for the planet.
Elena and Irene didn’t even notice that the traditional clear plastic cups of their Starbucks frappuccinos had been replaced with plain, ribbed cups devoid of any branding. Two Italians passing through Paris still marvel at the modest and chic containers that make their polished nails ring.
“The one who is aware of the change is not really a buyer, but an owner who says to himself: yesterday I threw away a million sauce cartons a day, today zero,” explains 35-year-old Nicolas, hired by a Parisian. fast food brand Burgers and Fries reimagined how the organization was run. He is mindful of the government’s ambition to cut more than 130,000 tons of fast food waste every year.
“Disposables are more expensive in all respects”
An environmental issue, but also an economic one that is also pushing small fast food restaurants to comply with the new rules, even if they have fewer than 20 seats. “With rising cardboard prices and an increasingly strict plastic ban, single-use items are becoming more expensive across the board,” says Asan, owner of le Spécial kebab in Saint-Denis (Saint-Saint-Denis).
He used to pay 20 euros for 3,000 plastic bags. Today there are hardly 500 of them at the same price. Trays, for their part, have quadrupled since 2020, rising from 4 cents a unit to over 16 cents. No more small gravy pots or french fry trays, plain paper on the tray and you’re done. As for cutlery, “the most environmentally friendly and most economical is when they are not! »