Kiwi burger chain owner slams competitors over plastic waste

Better Burger
At Better Burger, all their packaging is fully compostable. Photo credit: Supplied.

 Kiwi fast food chain boss is applauding the Government's ban on single-use plastic bags and urging his industry to take action.

Rod Ballenden, general manager of Kiwi-owned Better Burger, says fast food restaurants are to blame for tons of unnecessary plastic waste and should take responsibility.

"There are alternatives to single-use plastics readily available. If it takes a ban to stop companies from using petro-chemical plastic products - maybe that's the answer," he says.

At its five Better Burger locations, 100 percent plant-based, commercially compostable packaging is used, Mr Ballenden says.

Rod Ballenden
Rod Ballenden, general manager of Kiwi-owned Better Burger. Photo credit: Supplied.

"It's not typical of a fast food business to care about the environment. Most pay lip service and say they are doing their bit when really, they leave it up to the customer," he told Newshub.

"Big supermarkets phasing out plastic bags have already shown that sometimes customers need a nudge in the right direction." 

Mr Ballenden says all on-site rubbish at Better Burger restaurants is transported directly to commercial composting plant, ensuring the safe breakdown of each item.

"Using compostable bags and other packaging in place of plastics is the first step, but it needs a controlled environment to assist in the breakdown of the waste heat, moisture and oxygen in the right measure," he says.

Kiwi burger chain owner slams competitors over plastic waste
Photo credit: Supplied.

The burger chain acknowledges that the answer to New Zealand's plastic waste problem is far from clear. 

"We can take care of the rubbish in our restaurants, but we can't control what happens to packaging that customers take away," Mr Ballenden explains.

"The next piece of the puzzle for us is to ensure optimum conditions for takeaway packaging, like we do in each restaurant."

The New Zealand plastic packaging declaration, signed in June this year, saw 12 international and local businesses commit to using 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025 or earlier.

International fast food chain McDonald's made that commitment, but Mr Ballenden says its recycling system isn't good enough. 

"To be recycled, the packaging can't be contaminated with food. The reality is people aren't washing their shakes from their cups or sauce from their wrapper at McDonald's before dumping it in the bin," he says.