McDonald’s is leading a drive against the proposed European Union (EU) legislation designed to reduce packaging waste.

Insiders are calling this the biggest lobbying campaign seen in the European Parliament.

McDonald’s has sponsored articles, launched websites and published an ‘independent’ study, all arguing against the legislation, which was published in November.

The lobbying effort and critics

McDonald’s sponsored an article in Politico EU arguing that reusable packaging would be counterproductive to green goals. The restaurant chain also paid for statements in the influential Brussels Playbook newsletter.

It also addressed an event in the European Parliament where a Kearney study examining the environmental impact of switching to reusable packaging systems was criticised for being opaque and pessimistic.

McDonald’s and packaging industry allies have held 40 official meetings with MEPs since the start of 2022 regarding the Kearney study.

Critics have accused the company and others of trying to protect profits and opposed a new law that could reduce environmental costs by €6.4bn ($7.7bn) by 2030.

Scientists, campaigners and the UN say reuse is key to reducing the environmental cost of single-use packaging, but opponents argue that such a shift would be expensive and lead to systemic changes.