McDonald's ban on foam packaging may jog others

November 11, 1990|By Los Angeles Times

Environmental and industry officials say that McDonald's Corp.'s recent decision to switch from plastic or foam packaging to paper for most items will bring pressure on other fast-food chains to follow suit.

"We fully expect there will be a ripple effect from this decision," said Richard Denison, a senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, which worked with McDonald's to revise its packaging. McDonald's decision, he said, "will only up the pressure on others."

Burger King, the No. 2 hamburger chain, already uses lightweight paper boxes.

The decision is also a blow to the polystyrene industry -- already under attack because the manufacturing process gives off ozone-depleting chemicals -- which sells about 20 percent of its products to fast-food restaurants.

And though the industry may try, one venerable foam item is proving the most difficult of all to eliminate: the Styrofoam coffee cup.

So far, McDonald's and other chains say they cannot find a reasonable cardboard substitute that would be readily accepted by a public wary of burnt fingers and scorched thighs

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