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Fast Food Comes in Reusable Containers – France

As of 1 January 2023, Art.77 of France’s waste prevention went into effect. All on-site food services, that can seat 20 or more people, must provide food and beverage in reusable containers.

I first encountered this at Disneyland Paris in February of last year. The dining plan I had purchased ahead of time allowed me to have an extra snack and drink. So I had stopped off at the Last Chance Cafe for an ice cream and diet soda. While the ice cream was in a plastic wrapper, the drink came in a hard plastic cup.

Now, if you’re still with me and you’re a neurotypical individual, you’re probably wondering, “What point are you trying to get at here?” However, if you’re neurodiverse or care for someone who is, you might already thinking about the challenges I’m about to bring up.

Why Reusable Containers is a Big Deal

For individuals who are neurodiverse, change may not be so easy to cope with. By choosing to to to France to one of it’s wonderful theme parks, or even vacation, the individual’s routine is already been torn up and thrown out the window.

Being able to eat someplace that has the same smells, sounds, and look no matter where they go in the world (like McDonald’s) is often a life line. It’s a little bit of routine and normalcy that can make the trip easier and more enjoyable.

What Does the Reusable Packaging Look Like

On my various trips through France last year, I didn’t stop to eat at any fast food places. So I don’t have my own pictures, unfortunately. So I’ve scoured the internet looking for some of the different popular fast food place packaging. This way, you can either prepare yourself or a loved one for the change if this is something you want to navigate.

Keep reading to the end for a potential alternative to using the reusable containers.

McDonalds Reusable Containers

Since McDonald’s is likely to be the most popular choice of eatery, that’s what I’m going to start off with first.

Reusable containers at McDonald's France

If you order a burger, this might be what it looks like:

Reusable packaging at French McDonald's

Now, don’t quote me on this, but from the research I’ve done it looks like Happy Meals are still served inside the restaurant “normally.” So the 4 nuggets are still in a paper sack and possibly the fries? I’m not 100% sure if you get a soda if that comes in the normal take out cup or if it’s hard plastic.

Burger King Reusable Packaging

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find much in the way of what the Burger King reusable containers look like.

At the time of this post, their website is broken and their social media is still showing the old paper (or take out) packaging. Maybe paper, without added plastics, is ok under the French law?

I know that there’s a similar waste prevention law that has gone into effect in Germany last year, but I haven’t run into the reusable packaging yet. Maybe I need to go to France for a weekend to take pictures!

5 Guys New Reusable Packaging

5 Guys does have a restaurant in Disney Village, so it’s often another place that is spoken about quite often in the different Disneyland Paris spaces.

I was able to find this photo on Reddit of what eating in looks like at a French 5 Guys.

Dealing with Change of Packaging

While I’m not a licensed psychologist or behaviourologist, I do have friends as well as their children who are neurodiverse. I’ve picked up on a few tips and tricks over time hanging out with them.

  1. Do your research ahead of time. This way you know what’s coming or you can explain it to your loved one. This could mean finding pictures and videos showing what to expect.
  2. If you care for someone who this will affect, make sure that you’re having conversations about it beforehand. At least it won’t be a huge surprise.
  3. If you care for a child, bringing packaging from home might help. Ask your local McDonald’s if you could get some unused fry cartons and/or chicken nugget boxes. I used to get requests for empty boxes or sacks all the time. Usually it was a family who bought a 20 piece nugget and to keep their kids from fighting would split it out in 4 or 6 piece nugget boxes. Same with splitting a large fry. I’m pretty sure if you explained why you wanted a couple pieces of unused packaging, they would be more than happy to help out!
  4. Ordering for take away still produces the old packaging. Be aware this might slowly change as well as companies start trying to switch to more environmental friendly packaging. So the spoons may become wooden or bamboo and the boxes a different type of cardboard.

Something one of my friends did with her ASD little is take a special plate and cup with them to McDonalds. Then she’d take the food out of the packaging and serve it on the plate. For this family, this was a clever technique to make it less about the packaging and more about what the food is served on!

At the end of the day, we all have to deal with change. However, knowledge is power and preparing for the trip will make it more enjoyable and memorable for everyone!

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