Belgium wants to ban non-reusable fast food packaging

Belgian Environment Minister Zakia Khattabi has proposed a ban on single-use packaging and containers for food sold at fast-food chains. With the government aiming to enforce a ban as early as 1 January 2024, the proposal has triggered mixed reactions from industry giants such as Burger King and McDonald's.

On Sunday, a report by Le Soir revealed that the Belgian Federal Government was preparing to ban single-use packaging for fast-food establishments in an effort to push these restaurants to opt for reusable containers from 2024 onwards.

The country's Environment Minister has prepared a draft law on the matter, which still needs to be consulted by various industry representatives before being proposed to parliament. Her text specifically aims at single-use plastic packaging and containers for take-away meals and restaurant food. 

In response to the proposed ban, various representatives of the fast-food industry in Belgium agreed on the need to transition towards more sustainable packaging, but asked the government to consult them on any planned changes beforehand.

The trade and services federation Comeos has called for Khattabi's proposal to be adapted, with their sustainable development advisor Marie Van Breusegem stating that "a ban can only be considered if there is an environmentally, economically and technically viable alternative."

Furthermore, she indicated that the government's objective of enforcing the ban by 2024 is 'unthinkable' as it would represent "a complete change of business model." As a result, she has asked for this transition to be implemented in stages, an opinion shared by Isabelle Verdeyen from McDonald's Belgium.

Verdeyen added that the "consumer acceptance, environmental impact and effectiveness" of reusable packaging must be proven with better data. "Once this becomes clearer, we will be able to identify the role of reusable material in our packaging strategy," she added.

However, certain industry actors have welcomed the planned change. Burger Brands, the organisation in charge of Burger King and Quick, stated that they were constantly "striving to find the best sustainable and recyclable containers for our customers" and have planned investments in both reusable tableware and additional staff if the ban is approved.



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