How will the EU single use plastic ban affect fast food chains?

In a bid to protect the environment and marine wildlife, the EU has recently announced its plans to ban single use plastics across the bloc. Although the ban has been welcomed by environmental groups and campaigners, there are concerns from some leading companies over the effect it will have on business.

A number of fast food chains have admitted they will struggle with the ban. Chains like McDonalds, Subway and Burger King have already switched to paper products; however, they may need to have a major rethink when it comes to the way they package their products.

The EU clamp-down applies to all single use plastic products including plastic straws and cutlery. And whilst plastic straws are still being used across most branches of these chain restaurants, the ban could prove problematic going forward. The companies claim that there’s no viable alternative to plastic straws unless customers choose to drink from a basic cup with no straw or lid. Also, paper cups have plastic lids which are affected by the ban as well.

How are the chains preparing for the ban?

Burger King

Currently, Burger King restaurants in the EU still use plastic straws, bowls and cutlery. However, when the EU implements its ban, this will no longer be satisfactory. The company will most likely need to come up with new strategies in order to comply with the new regulations. They have yet to make a statement or detail any plans for any alternatives to plastic packaging.


Like Burger King, McDonald’s still serve their food in plastic dishes and plastic cutlery in frequently used. Alternatives are yet to be introduced, and currently the restaurant uses disposable plastic for nearly all their tableware.

A spokeswoman for McDonald’s commented: “The proposed EU Commission directive goes hand-in-hand with our own goals of increasing recycling rates and reducing packaging in general and plastics in particular. In Germany, the recycling rate of packaging is currently already around 70 per cent. “Since the end of 2016, customers have also been able to get coffee with a 10 percent discount by bringing in their own clean cups to take away.”


Subway claims that it’s trying to be more be environmentally friendly by using more recyclable products; however, they’ve yet to announce any plans to stop using plastic straws or dishes in their branches. A spokesperson said: “We have a responsibility to minimise the resources we’re consuming, the waste we’re generating and the overall impact we’re having on the environment around the world.”

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