Page last updated at 08:34 GMT, Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Food shops 'must fight litter'

Big Mac and fries
McDonald's says it asks customers to dispose of litter responsibly

Anti-litter campaigners have called on the fast food industry to take more responsibility for the food and packaging it sells as takeaways.

A Keep Britain Tidy (KBT) survey found 25% of English streets littered with fast food rubbish, up from 16% in 2002.

Biggest fast food chain MacDonald's accounted for most of the litter, with unbranded wrappings from local fish and chip or kebab shops in second place.

KBT wants retailers to make it easier to dispose of litter responsibly.

Surveyors for the organisation spent two days observing fast food litter in 10 locations across England.

Branded litter from McDonald's made up 29% of all litter spotted in the survey.

McDonald's 29%
Unbranded litter 21%
Greggs 18%
KFC 8%
Subway/Coffee shops 5%

Unbranded wrappings accounted for 21% of waste, bakery Greggs came third with 18% and KFC fourth with 8%.

Sandwich chain Subway and other branded coffee shops accounted for 5% of the litter found.

The 10 areas surveyed were London, Newcastle upon Tyne, Leicestershire, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester, the South West, Leeds and Southampton.

Keep Britain Tidy delivered the survey to the chief executives of companies named.

It has demanded the fast food industry takes more responsibility for what happens to fast food and packaging when it is taken away from premises.

'More active role'

Phil Barton, Keep Britain Tidy chief executive, said: "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.

"We want fast food chains to play a more active role in delivering an anti-litter message at the point of sale."

He acknowledged McDonald's took a responsible attitude to the community and ran anti-litter campaigns, but needed to do more.

"We want all fast food chains to reduce unnecessary packaging and make it easier for customers to do the right thing," he said.

Litter patrols

A spokeswoman for McDonald's said it had been signed up to the government's voluntary code of practice to help reduce litter created by takeaway food since 2004.

She said: "We ask all customers to dispose of their litter responsibly and provide plenty of bins both in and around our restaurants.

"Each restaurant is expected to send out a minimum of three litter patrols each day, who clear all litter - not just McDonald's - up to 100m away from the restaurant and we are currently trialling full time litter pickers in the Birmingham and Manchester areas."

Meanwhile, academic research suggests there is clear evidence seeing litter displaying a company's brand can negatively affect the public's perception of that brand.

The research was conducted by Dr Stuart Roper at the University of Manchester and Professor Cathy Parker at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Prof Parker said: "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."

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