Two recent studies reveal that fast food waste is both highly littered and extremely recyclable.
Clean Water Action's monitoring results from 2010-2011 found that in half a dozen sites throughout the East Bay, the largest percentage of litter (excluding cigarette litter) was from fast food restaurants. Fast food waste made up 49% of the litter found at the study sites, all of which had a delivery pathway to a body of water either through wind, rain or direct deposit. The five most significant sources of fast food litter were McDonalds, Burger King, Seven Eleven, Starbucks, and Taco Bell.
Austin (Texas) Resource Recovery performed an audit of fast food restaurants in the city during March 2012. The audit revealed that 85% of fast food waste can be recycled or composted. Recyclable material includes cardboard, non-soiled paper, metals, glass containers, plastic containers and cooking oil. Compostable material includes food scraps, food-soiled paper and compostable organics.
Senator Mark Leno has introduced SB 529 this session to address the impacts of fast food waste. The bill would require fast food chains to use packaging that is compatible with local recycling and composting infrastructure.
Find out more about the campaign to reduce plastic pollution here.