NEW YORK -- The plastic box long used to tote fast food from McDonald's seems to be on its way out due to environmental considerations, The New York Times said Thursday.
The plastic box, a standard encasement for fast food burgers, has become a symbol of the garbage crisis and will be phased out of use by the McDonald's Corp., the Times said.
There was no comment from officials at the company's headquarters at Oak Brook, Ill., on the development, the paper said.
But, Lee Masters of Golin Harris, McDonald's public relations firm, said Wednesday the company 'plans a major news announcement' Thursday regarding the environment.
A decision to get rid of the plastic container would be an abrupt about-face for the corporation, which for years has doggedly defended its need to use plastics for its restaurants' takeouts, the paper said.
McDonald's, which operates 8,000 fast food restaurants around the country, has maintained that the foam keeps food warm, protects it from contamination and resists grease stains better than paperboard boxes.
But environmental advocates say producing the containers generates pollutants and note the box has a useful life of only a few minutes while taking years to degenerate in a landfill.
Plastics tend to last longer in the environment than things made from paper or wood.
McDonald's has come under increased pressure from environmentalists and earth conscious consumers as towns and cities enact bans on containers, which are not biodegradable or cannot be recycled.