Here’s something to chew on while you’re chowing down on your Whopper: how much impact, positive or negative, do fast food restaurants have on the environment? Considering that the fast food industry is one of the largest in America, and that $11.4 billion worth of non-recyclable packaging is wasted annually, the answer is: a significant impact. The National Resources Defense Council and As You Sow just examined the packaging and recycling practices of 47 fast-food and quick-service companies, and found that none of the companies met the NRDC’s standards for “best practices.”
At the top of the list for “better practices” was actually Starbucks and McDonald’s, despite the garbage accrued from the pile-up of coffee cups and takeout containers. Eight of the ranked fast-food companies landed in the worst category, meaning that their packaging and recycling practices left much to be desired. These companies included Arby’s, Quizno’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Jack in the Box, Dairy Queen, Domino’s, and Papa John’s.
The companies were ranked according the kind of packaging used, whether the packaging was recyclable, able to be composted, or made of recycled content, and what the companies are actually doing to promote the recycling of their packages, according to Care2.com.
“Single-use food and beverage packaging is a prime component of the plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways, which kills and injures marine life and poses a potential threat to human health,” Darby Hoover, senior resource specialist and packaging report project editor for the Natural Resources Defense Council said in a statement. “Companies have an opportunity and an obligation to curb this pollution. Better packaging design and improved support and adoption of recycling are key to turning the tide on this unnecessary waste.”
The Daily Meal has reached out to each of the top- and bottom-ranking companies and will update this story with their comments.