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From Littering to Responsibility: End of Life Packaging Management at Fast Food Sector
TEIJA AARNIO1 and Lassi Linnanen2, (1)HELSINKI UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, Finland; (2)Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland
Fast food sector is a fairly new business branch that has continuously increased its market share over the past decades. The permanent societal changes such as faster life pace, more women in the workforce, single households, and increase discretionary income have affected eating habits and generated a call for fast food sector. The role of sales packaging at fast food sector is continuously questioned in publicity. The term ‘junk food’ is widely used referring either to the low nutritional value of fast food, but also to the littering by sales packaging. Indeed, the role of packaging at fast food sector differs from many other commercial uses of packaging in retail and wholesaler market. In the fast food restaurants, the sales packaging functions primarily as the serving dish. However, when put in perspective, fast food restaurants are too small waste production units to be considered as industrial sites by legislation. The generated waste streams resemble household assimilated waste and have, on the positive account, high recovery potential due to the relatively homogeneous waste composition. But while treated as municipal solid waste by legislation, the framework conditions are weak for source reduction or for cost-efficient material recovery. Despite of the permanent position the fast food has taken in the modern society, the end of life management of packaging at fast food sector has not been widely studied. The aim of this study is to create a comprehensive picture about the packaging challenges at the fast food sector. The preconditions and incentives for more responsible end of life management are revealed.
 
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