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25th Nov 2022

Number plates could be printed on McDonald’s customers’ wrappers to stop littering

Steve Hopkins

The idea is ‘fraught with some difficulties’

McDonald’s drive-thru customers could have their car number plates printed on food packaging in an attempt to combat littering.

The Welsh government has reportedly “explored” the option with the fast-food chain after Plaid Cymru reported a rise in rubbish following the first lockdown.

Chris Howell, Swansea Council’s head of waste, parks and cleansing, said the idea might work in theory but would have a fair few drawbacks.

He explained to a climate change corporate delivery meeting that it was hoped the idea “would discourage people from discarding their [litter]”, Nation Cymru reported.

Howell, did not however, expect fast fans to be very happy about having their meals tracked:”If McDonald’s do it, then people will just go to Burger King instead of McDonald’s, because nobody wants to have their private details printed on that packaging,” he told the committee.

He added: “I think it’s a really good idea but at the minute it’s fraught with some difficulties.”

In 2020, Plaid Cymru launched a petition calling on fast-food companies to print customer numbers plates on drive-thru packaging.

The government said littering was in no way acceptable and that a new prevention plan with businesses and councils is in the works.

Keep Britain Tidy estimates that two million pieces of rubbish are dropped across the UK every day.

McDonald’s has already tried to combat littering, but it hasn’t gone to plan.

In Dorset a branch abandoned packaging altogether for the day, but that led to chaotic scenes of people being handed chips and burgers without any wrapping, Metro noted.

The chain told LadBible that it is “open” to the number plates proposal, but wasn’t convinced the plan would be possible or effective as proposed.

A McDonald’s spokesperson said: “Encouraging our customers to dispose of our packaging responsibly is something we take seriously at McDonald’s and we have looked into this proposal a number of times over the years.

“Unfortunately, we are not able to process our customers’ data in this way. Additionally, we have concerns around the effectiveness of printing registration plate numbers on our packaging or receipts, and are not convinced that it would provide strong enough evidence to support local authorities in prosecuting litter offences.”

The spokesperson said McDonald’s remains “open to the proposal in principle and continue to keep its feasibility under review” and added that it continues to “reward customers for binning their litter through our partnership with LitterLotto as well as supporting a number of anti-litter campaigns and initiatives with Keep Britain Tidy, Keep Wales Tidy and environmental charity Hubbub”.

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