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We’re (almost) loving it!

24 February, 2023

When France first introduced its “anti-waste” law, the world was excited. By 2040, one way or another, the government will have phased out all single-use plastic packaging. Finally, a bold step by a country to really tackle the waste problem and incorporate it into binding law. And in December when our turtleneck loving Macron tweeted about McDonald’s reusable red chip holders, a few of us definitely smiled.  

However, as great as it is to see tangible change in the fast food chain and elsewhere, a few months down the line cracks are appearing: consumers bringing the reusable packaging home as a souvenir; the size of the investment needed by fast-food companies to accommodate such a big change in operational processes, which will probably trickle down to consumer prices; food waste piling up, as it is impossible to donate food without packaging; higher energy and water usage to clean packs; and overlooking non-reusable alternatives which may be more recyclable or have a lower environmental footprint.  

This is a tough one, as it’s to be expected that big changes will come with teething problems, as companies and the other stakeholders adapt to change, and find the long-term solutions that do make sense environmentally, economically and practically. So it’s important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But it does also shine a light on the imperative of taking time to test potential solutions properly, and on learning from unintended consequences, so that others don’t repeat them. That was progressive and far-reaching legislation can be used in conjunction with evidence-based, practical solutions which make things better, rather than worse. 

By Marie Guerinet

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