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10/10/00 . Sam Thompson . Independent Newspapers, Ltd. . Auckland, New Zealand
Council Wants Big Mac to Chip In For Rubbish Costs
The Waitakere City Council wants the hamburger chain, McDonald's, to pay for part of the $600,000 annual bill for cleaning up litter from Waitakere City streets. The claim follows a council survey showing the company's burger wrappers account for more than half of the litter generated by fast food chains in the city.
Council solid waste manager Jon Roscoe says McDonald's has not been asked for a specific amount of money, but the council has suggested to McDonald's that they should be contributing to the cost of the litter pick up for as long as they continue to produce packaging that's so readily disposable in a takeaway form.
"Our biggest surprise was that four fast food chains account for 12 per cent of the city's litter problems and more than half of that was McDonald's packaging.
"The others are Burger King, KFC and Wendy's and we are talking to these companies as well."
McDonald's communications manager Lisa Fleury says the council has not asked them to pay for the clean-up, but they have received a letter about the litter problem and the cost to the council.
"All our franchises have a contract with us to pick up litter within a block of where they are situated," Ms Fleury says.
She says the company funds educational kits for schools, produced by the New Zealand Packaging Council, that deal with waste disposal and environmental issues.
"As a company we are very much aware of our responsibility to educate others, but at the end of the day it is the individual customer that is responsible for the disposal of their material, whether it's McDonald's or any other packaging they might have."
Mr Roscoe says the council will make a submission to the central government working party on waste minimisation "to take a hard line on litter".
"We have very few laws surrounding packaging. In fact we are one of the only countries in the world that does not have compulsory refunds on some forms of packaging like bottles," he says.
"Our litter laws are inadequate in comparison to other countries. An individual can be fined $100 and businesses up to $500.
"If you start hitting them as hard as you do with people who drink and drive, for example, you are gong to see some people changing their attitude."
Cigarette packets and butts are also a litter problem on city streets
and Mr Roscoe says some of the cigarette taxes collected by Government
should go toward councils' litter clean-up costs.