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Fast-food giant justifies packaging

McDONALD'S claimed in the High Court yesterday that in a fast-food restaurant it is more environmentally friendly to use disposable packaging than conventional cutlery and crockery, writes Danny Penman.

Robert Langert, McDonald's director of environmental affairs, made the claims in evidence for a libel action brought by the hamburger chain against two environmentalists accused of writing, publishing and distributing a leaflet stating the company is responsible for acts of environmental destruction and produces food that causes cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Helen Steel and Dave Morris, who are conducting their own defence to save costs, deny libel, arguing the claims are a fair comment on the company's activities.

Mr Langert claimed the use of conventional crockery and cutlery would require a large dishwasher 'which would probably be the largest energy consumer in the restaurant'. 'It would consume hundreds of gallons of water per hour and it would use detergents and chemicals to clean.'

Mr Langert admitted the company generally lagged behind public opinion on environmental matters but said 'they wished to take into account the science'.

The case continues.