Keep Britain Tidy, an effort of ENCAMS (Environmental Campaigns) in the UK, has released its findings on what type of fast food litter (by store/brand/type) was most likely to be found strewn about the streets of the country. Campaigning directly to the public, Keep Britain Tidy works on many issues related to improving the state of the country’s streets and reducing anti-social behavior in communities. Beyond litter, the group addresses issues such as graffiti, neighborhood noise, and abandoned vehicles.
Most recently, Keep Britain Tidy surveyors spent two days observing fast food litter in 10 city centers and suburbs/out-of-town locations (Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Leicester, Birmingham, Bristol, Southampton and London).
One finding was that McDonald’s burger wrappers and drinks cartons are more likely to be found littering those streets than any other fast food brand. Nationwide McDonald’s made up more than a quarter of all fast food litter (29%). Common items in that group were burger wrappers, condiment sachets, and plastic straws.
In second place, the local chippie or kebab shop: Keep Britain Tidy found a substantial amount of “unbranded” chip wrappings and packaging in all locations (21%). This included polystyrene chip trays and plastic forks.
In third place, Greggs, was found to have a high gutter share. The company’s pasty and pie wrappers made up 18% of all fast food litter.
Next in the round up was KFC (8%) and fifth place Subway (5%).
Call To Action
Earlier this week, Keep Britain Today delivered its branded litter survey to the chief executives of companies named. It is demanding that the fast food industry take more responsibility for what happens to fast food and packaging taken away from premises.
Phil Barton, Keep Britain Tidy chief executive, said:
“This is the very first time we have looked at which brands make up littered England. Of the 10 cities surveyed the same brands appeared again and again. We condemn litterers for dropping this fast food litter in the first place but also believe the results have pertinent messages for the fast food industry.
McDonald’s, the local chip shop, Greggs, KFC, and Subway need to do more to discourage littering by their customers. Fast food makes up a quarter of all litter found on our streets. We want fast food chains to play a more active role in delivering an anti-litter message at the point of sale.
We know from working with McDonald’s in the past that the company takes a responsible attitude to its communities by running local anti-litter campaigns. McDonald’s has anti-litter logos on packaging, provides litter bins and runs ‘litter patrols’. However, McDonald’s litter remains all too prevalent on our streets and we’d like the company to do more to tackle the problem.
We want all fast food chains to reduce unnecessary packaging and make it easier for customers to do the right thing.”
Keep Britain Tidy today wrote to fast food companies urging them to:
- Reduce unnecessary packaging
- Make “eating-in” a more attractive option by reducing prices for customers who stay on the premises
- Encourage “eating-out” customers to use a bin once they’ve finished their meal
- Increase signage in restaurants with anti-litter messages
- Offer money-off vouchers or incentives to customers who return packaging
- Put more bins at strategic points – not just directly outside their premises
- Work with Keep Britain Tidy to tackle the problem
Academic research has been carried out by Dr Stuart Roper at Manchester Business School–The University of Manchester and Professor Cathy Parker at Manchester Metropolitan University. That research asserts that it reveals the damaging impact litter can have on a brand.
Professor Parker said: “There is clear evidence that seeing litter with a company’s brand on can negatively affect the public’s perception of that brand. There is, therefore, a good commercial reason why fast food operators should take more of an interest in what happens to their packaging once it leaves their premises.”
A Few More Facts
Keep Britain Tidy accepts that McDonald’s has done more than most fast food companies to tackle litter. Keep Britain Tidy is supportive of the company’s commitment to the environment but wants to see McDonald’s do more to tackle litter. Keep Britain Tidy has worked with McDonald’s in the past and is keen to work with the company again to improve England’s litter problem.
Keep Britain Tidy acknowledges that the National Federation of Fish Friers works hard to get chip shops to tackle litter. Keep Britain Tidy has linked up with the federation in the past and wants to work closer with them in the future.
A Voluntary Code of Practice for the fast food industry was launched in 2004 by DEFRA.
Litter is often a community problem, and the businesses that generate this waste should make an effort to reduce that litter. But where does personal responsibility come in? Those who are throwing those food wrappers in the street should also make an effort to find a waste receptacle.