NOT LOVIN IT: McDonalds Sues City Over Takeaway Junk Tax

American fast-food giant McDonald’s has begun a courtroom battle against a German city for imposing a strict new tax on packaging waste.

McDonald’s is suing the picturesque university city of Tuebingen, in central Baden-Wuerttemberg, in south-western Germany, after its Lord Mayor, Boris Palmer, 49, championed a disposable packaging tax that came into effect on 1st January 2022.

The American company was slammed for suing the German city over its new municipal tax on disposable packaging, despite the American fast-food giant already using reusable packaging in other countries, such as the United Kingdom.

Boris Palmer who said the trash cans in Tubingen have been ‘surprisingly empty’ since the packaging tax started in January 2022. (Newsflash)

McDonald’s says the move could raise prices, forcing less-well-off customers out of their restaurants.

City officials say the new tax is aimed at forcing companies to switch to more sustainable solutions in a bid to fight climate change and to protect the environment.

And now the trial has begun, with the Administrative Court reportedly negotiating with the parties for two and a half hours yesterday (Tuesday, 29th March).

Maccy D’s is not happy about the new tax and is suing to stop it, leading Environmental Action Germany (DUH) – an organisation that has been campaigning to protect nature for over 40 years – to accuse the fast-food giant of attempting to sabotage efforts to protect the climate and the environment.

The DUH is said to have collected nearly 100,000 signatures from local people to support its cause.

One group of supporters reportedly staged a protest in front of the courthouse during the trial.

DUH Managing Director Juergen Resch, 62, had previously said that the fast-food chain is blocking urgently overdue switches to environmentally and climate-friendly reusable alternatives.

Resch, along with Palmer, presented several reusable packages that he said McDonald’s uses in other countries, such as France and the United Kingdom.

Mayor Palmer, who is a politician for the Greens, also said that the tax appears to be working, noting that the city’s rubbish bins had remained “surprisingly empty” since the introduction of the tax.

He said: “I spoke to the rubbish people: the impression that everyone has confirmed is that the rubbish bins are surprisingly empty.”

This has led to local media outlets labelling the disposable packaging tax a success. Resch has also labelled Tuebingen’s new tax as a role model that other cities should follow.

He reportedly said yesterday: “Anyone who builds their business model on the destruction of the environment should rethink their business model.”

But the owner of the Tuebingen branch of McDonald’s has filed a complaint with the administrative court in Mannheim over the packaging, and she is reportedly supported by McDonald’s, which argues that a national concept is necessary instead.

McDonald’s is suing Tubingen’s municipal tax on disposable tableware. (Newsflash)

The unnamed entrepreneur who owns the Tuebingen branch of McDonald’s, who reportedly acknowledged that she bore some responsibility to make a significant contribution towards conserving resources and reducing packaging waste, considered, however, that the tax in Tuebingen was disproportionate.

She said: “If I pass the price on to the customers, those on a tight budget will no longer be able to come. If I bear the costs myself, it’s at least a six-figure amount a year.”

The fast food giant reportedly added: “There cannot be local, isolated solutions and special routes for each of the more than 10,000 cities and communities in Germany.”

The owner of the Tuebingen branch of McDonald’s believes that the waste tax violates federal waste law.

The packaging tax states that EUR 0.50 (GBP 0.42) needs to be paid for each disposable beverage container or disposable food container, with an additional EUR 0.20 (GBP 0.17) required for each disposable cutlery set. The tax allows for a maximum of EUR 1.50 (GBP 1.27) to be charged per meal.

The taxes are expected to be paid by anyone who sells food and drink in disposable packaging for immediate consumption or takeaway.

Mayor Palmer, referring to a ruling by Germany’s highest court last year, said: “The Federal Constitutional Court has written in the record that politicians are not doing enough to protect the environment. The issue here is whether a municipality can do more than the inadequate efforts of the state.”

The case continues.