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McDonald's-Led Greenwashing Industry Group Pens Open Letter Against Proposed EU Packaging Rules

by Rudy Sanchez on 05/11/2023 | 2 Minute Read

While many people had the environment on their minds last month for at least 24 hours (see you next year, Earth Day), some of the biggest QSRs and food service companies—including McDonald’s, Baskin Robbins, Dunkin’, and Yum! Brands (parent company of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut)—were busy drafting an open letter asking the European Commission to pause the rollout of a new set of packaging regulations proposed last November called Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR).

Under a newly formed alliance, the group of companies called Together for Sustainable Packaging addresses new rules that would prevent chains like Baskin Robbins and McDonald’s from using single-use packaging for food served in-store.

Together for Sustainable Packaging cites concerns over the additional water required to wash reusable packaging, increased greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), hygiene, and safety concerns. The alliance’s letter notes industry-funded studies conducted by Ramboll, Kearney, and another industry-funded group called the European Paper Packaging Alliance, which has led to criticism over the figures mentioned and conclusions reached in this open letter.

Industry leaders like McDonald’s have been busy since November in a heavy assault on PPWR. The open letter is the latest in a series of actions that led Jean-Pierre Schweitzer, deputy policy manager for circular economy at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), to describe the law as the “most lobbied on file that many people in the Parliament have witnessed,” according to PR pollution fack checking outlet DeSmog.

Comparing major companies' environmental pledges and performance last month, a clear pattern emerged among CPG giants like Nestlé, Mondelez, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Unilever, and QSR powerhouses like McDonald’s and Starbucks. These firms continue to focus on recycling to solve the plastic crisis. A switch to reusable packaging would impose additional costs and operational complexities on these firms but would ultimately prevent the introduction of more trash and single-use plastic waste.

If these same companies can make reusable packaging work in France, one has to wonder why they’re so opposed to seeing similar rules across the EU.