FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

Why should companies participate in the survey or care about plastic pollution?

Growing media, organization (NGO) and socially responsible investor (SRI) attention is linking Fast Food companies to their packaging litter and is causing risks to corporate brands.  Negative publicity on Fast Food plastic pollution is eroding billions of dollars of advertising investments and hurting company brand values. Inconsistent plastics distributions policies by Fast Food Companies across the countries where they operate are unacceptable business practices because plastic pollution is a global issue and does not stop at country borders.


Will other single use plastic items given out by Fast Food Companies be added to the survey?

Additional single use plastic practices related to other items, such as plastic cutlery and condiment packages, distributed by Fast Food companies may be added in future phases of the survey.


Some cities, states, and countries have banned single use plastics, including plastic straws, plastic bags and EPS foam cups and containers. How does the survey account for local regulations?

The survey information is reported at the country level.  If a company chooses to distribute plastic straws, plastic bags or EPS foam cups or containers anywhere in a country, then that practice is assumed for the entire country.


Is the action by the UK and EU Governments enough to stop Fast Food plastic pollution?

To address the most common single use plastics found on United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU) beaches, the UK and EU Governments are seeking to regulate plastic straws and other items. The EU’s Single Use Plastic Directive requires countries, and therefore companies, to eliminate plastic straws, take action on food containers and reduce the distribution of lightweight plastic carrier bags (existing Plastic Bags Directive). Unless Fast Food Companies are pressured to extend the improved practices around the world, they may continue business as usual outside of the UK and European Union.


Why should plastic items that are recyclable be eliminated?

While some plastic straws, plastic bags, and EPS foam cups and containers may be technically capable of being recycled in some locations, they very rarely are recycled because it costs far too much to collect, truck, clean, and process the waste plastic.  Companies typically buy cheap new plastic to make these products instead of paying more for recycled materials. Since this type of waste plastic has no value, it is littered far too often. In many countries, there are insufficient or no waste collection and recycling systems.


Why should plastic items that are called “biodegradable”  or “compostable” be eliminated?

Plastic materials called “biodegradable” or “compostable” are rarely sent to a destination where the conditions are right for biodegradation or composting. As described in this review, the end-of-life for these types of plastics in a landfill is anything but green. A byproduct of their decay is methane, a greenhouse gas roughly 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide. Bioplastics such as polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) and polylactic acid (PLA), typically require industrial conditions of elevated temperature (typically 150 F) and holding time (6 months) to begin to degrade.  The industrial composting facilities required to degrade the plastic material do not exist in most countries. When these plastics enter the marine environment, they persist and cause harm just as traditional plastic products do. Please refer to our Better Alternatives Now (Ban List 2.0) for a detailed analysis of the degradability and compostability of plastic products.


If plastic straws are provided “on request” for customers, does this count as a full phase-out?

No, to be considered a full phase-out, paper straws must be provided when customers request a straw. Exceptions to accommodate customers with special physical requirements are acceptable. There are reusable flexible straws available that may be easily purchased from online vendors.


How is a “plastic bag” defined in the survey?

A plastic bag is defined to be a bag that is used to carry other items that have their own wrapping or containers.  Small plastic bags used to package food (e.g. carrots or apple slices) or condiments are not included in the survey.


A Fast Food Company has replaced their EPS foam containers with paper, but their EPS foam cups have not been replaced.  How does the survey account for a partial phase-out?

The survey information is reported for a total phase-out of plastic straws, plastic bags and EPS foam cups and containers.  A partial phaseout is welcomed progress, of course.


Some of the Fast Food stores are owned by Franchisees, are the Fast Food companies responsible for their Franchisee’s plastic practices?

Yes, Franchisees must comply with safety, food, packaging, branding, and other standards established by the corporate Fast Food company to promote quality and protect their brand image.  Since plastic pollution is universally accepted as a critical planetary issue, both the Fast Food companies and their Franchisees are responsible for eliminating the distribution of harmful plastic items.


Is it difficult or time consuming for companies to report on their plastic practices in each country of operation?

This is a simple information request which is easy for companies to respond to because they employ “enterprise resource planning” ERP software purchasing systems.  In the request email to companies, a simple spreadsheet is provided to each company with store locations prepopulated by information from their websites or found in the public domain. Publicly announced pledges are also prepopulated, when found.  

It should be noted that hundreds of companies, including many of the largest 100 Fast Food companies included in this survey, routinely report their energy use and carbon dioxide emissions (Carbon Disclosure Project) and water use (Carbon Disclosure Project - Water).  The CDP and CDP-Water information requirements are significantly more complex and time-consuming to respond to than this simple survey on the distribution of three types of plastic items directly from business operations.


Some companies have made pledges to eliminate plastic straws, plastic bags and/or EPS foam cups and containers in the future. Are the pledges shown?

Yes, where companies have made a public pledge to eliminate plastic disposable items, the Year End Phase Out date is shown in the survey table (PhaseOut 2018, PhaseOut 2019, PhaseOut 2020) with a link to the public pledge. Phase out dates beyond 2020 are considered too far in the future to be credible. The company phase out commitments will be monitored by Plastic Pollution Coalition’s extended global social media network.


Some companies don’t distribute plastic straws, plastic bags and/or EPS foam cups and containers now, but haven’t publicly stated their practices. How is this shown in the survey?

We request that companies complete the survey indicating that they do not give away each of the items.  In addition, we request that companies issue a public statement on their website or through a press release that states that the company does not now and will not use plastic straws, plastic bags and/or EPS foam cups and containers in the future in global operations.


A company would like to ask a question on the survey. Who should be contacted?

Please contact plasticsurvey@plasticpollutioncoalition.org


What is the credibility of the plastic practice information in the survey table?

The information in table has been provided by companies (supported by public statements) or submitted with photo verification from the public.  The information is kept on file in a traceable account. The initial store location information was gathered from the company websites, if available, or other public sources.


How can updated information be provided to fill gaps or correct information in the survey table?

Photos may be tweeted to @plasticpollutes with #plasticsurvey or emailed to: plasticsurvey@plasticpollutioncoalition.org


How often will the survey table available on line be updated?

After the initial public launch date each quarter, the survey will be updated weekly as new information is supplied by companies and through social media submittals.


May I use the information in the table for a report, article, or other purpose?

The information in the survey table is free in the public domain for noncommercial use.  We request that the source of the information be cited as “Global Fast Food Plastic Survey led by Plastic Pollution Coalition”.


Is the PPC’s Fast Food Plastic Survey related to the Plastic Disclosure Project?

No, the initiatives are not related.


Help can I help complete the Global Fast Food Survey?

Tweet a photo to help complete the global survey. Tag @plasticpollutes #plasticsurvey with the brand name & your country.