Calls for McDonald’s to take responsibility over litter problems in Welsh county
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
Calls have been made for McDonald’s in Flintshire to take more responsibility for their packaging.
It follows community leaders raising concerns over drive-thru customers leaving rubbish strewn across roads and pavements in the county.
One leading politician described the amount of takeaway-related waste generated by McDonald’s as “absolutely ridiculous” as councillors met to discuss environmental issues.
While the burger chain was praised for carrying out daily litter picks near its restaurants, members of Flintshire Council said food wrappers could often be found dumped several miles away.
They are now urging McDonald’s to take steps to control the amount of packaging it produces, although the company has stressed the majority comes from recycled or renewable sources.
The issue was raised yesterday by Cilcain councillor Owen Thomas after he expressed frustration about rubbish being discarded in areas surrounding Mold.
Speaking at a meeting of the local authority’s environment and economy, scrutiny committee, the Conservative politician said: “What’s being done about the litter that ends up from the likes of coffee shops, takeaways and McDonald’s?
“They’re dumped on the road and it’s usually a couple of miles out of Mold. All this litter is dumped on the road, and something’s got to be put right on it.
“It’s continuing and somebody’s got to be responsible for it.”
Last year, Plaid Cymru launched a petition calling on fast food joints to print customers’ number plates on drive-thru packaging in a bid to tackle litter louts.
It followed an increase in litter problems when takeaways reopened after coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased.
Cllr Glyn Banks, the council’s cabinet member for streetscene, said McDonald’s was not the only company to blame for the issue.
However, the Labour councillor agreed that the amount of packaging it produced was excessive.
He said: “There are moves afoot in the Welsh Government to put measures in place where we’re going to make firms who create the waste take ownership for that waste.
“People shouldn’t litter and it’s not all the fault of these firms – there are other firms apart from McDonald’s.
“But if you’ve ever been into McDonald’s and bought a meal for four or five people, the amount of waste created is ridiculous.
“Like all other fast food outlets, they’ve got a responsibility to cut down on this waste that they’re making in the first place and the packaging is absolutely ridiculous.”
Council officer Barry Wilkinson told the committee the authority was in regular contact with McDonald’s.
He encouraged members to raise their concerns directly with local branches to request for litter left near restaurants to be collected.
But he acknowledged some of the problems were occurring further afield.
He said: “If you’ve got particular concerns about certain premises, mention it to the area coordinators – they will speak to the managers and the managers will do litter picks.
“It’s not always effective, particularly when you’re talking about where it’s a couple of miles down the road.
“We know we have issues with littering on Pinfold Lane near the A55 McDonald’s and McDonald’s will go out and clear those areas.”
Responding to the concerns, a McDonald’s spokesperson said: “At McDonald’s we take our responsibility around litter very seriously and we are grateful that the work we do with local communities to tackle this issue was mentioned during the council meeting.
“McDonald’s restaurant teams carry out daily litter patrols in their local communities, collecting all litter not just McDonald’s branded packaging.
“Over 90% of the packaging we use comes from recycled or renewable sources, and can be recycled, and we continue to work hard to increase that number.
“We remain committed to finding innovative ways to tackle the issue of packaging waste and are trialling returnable coffee cups in conjunction with global reuse platform, Loop, to help reduce the amount of single use coffee cups being used.”