Burger King to ditch all single-use plastic in the UK

Burger King UK has made a new commitment to phase out all single-use plastic by 2025, replacing packaging with reusables and with recycled or certified plastic-free alternatives.

Burger King UK has already phased out plastic straws

Burger King UK has already phased out plastic straws

The commitment forms part of a new sustainability charter called ‘Burger King For Good’.

The fast-food giant had already committed to removing single-use plastic ‘where possible’ and making all packaging recyclable at kerbside, but the new targets go one step further.

Burger King UK has already removed plastic straws from restaurants, replacing them with paper-based alternatives, and ditched plastic toys for kids’ meals. Items that will need to be tackled to meet the new 2025 targets include cup lids and condiment sachets.

To ensure that the new packaging formats bear minimal negative environmental impacts, Burger King will source all single-use packaging materials from sources certified as recycled or sustainably produced. It will also continue to explore reusable packaging, following trials with TerraCycle in Japan and the US.

City to Sea had previously voiced concerns that Covid-19 could slow down the UK food-to-go sector’s transition away from single-use plastics.

Away from packaging, Burger King For Good outlines new pledges on food waste and animal welfare, which the business has described as key areas of focus in terms of sustainability.

On the firmer, Burger King is targeting a 30% reduction in food waste by 2025, against a 2019 baseline, and will measure waste across the value chain. It is adopting WRAP and IDG’s food waste roadmap to drive progress. The roadmap is backed by dozens of big businesses at every stage of the food value chain, from farming to waste management, and helped them to collectively mitigate 180,000 tonnes of waste during 2020.

On animal welfare, the strategy includes commitments to continue sourcing only beef produced to the British Quality Beef standard and Irish Beef Standard; to shift to 100% cage-free eggs by 2025; to improve antibiotic management and to continue sourcing only fish certified as sustainable. Measures to support the European Chicken Criteria post-Brexit are also outlined.

“Being good to the planet, our people and guests is central to our values at Burger King UK and despite the challenges faced by the pandemic, I believe this crisis has given us an opportunity to ‘build back better’ and drive through our company values, which are integral to sustaining our business for the future,” Burger King UK’s chief executive Alasdair Murdoch said.

“The underlying aim of the Burger King for Good initiative is to be transparent, be accountable and work with others to ensure our business decisions are well informed and sound.”

Beyond Meat

In other sustainability-related news from the fast-food sector, plant-based protein brand Beyond Meat has confirmed new major supply deals with McDonald’s and Yum! Brands, which owns Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC.

Beyond Meat had already been working with both firms separately, mainly for trials of products limited by both time and geographical region.

The new contract with McDonald’s has a three-year period and covers several key markets including Canada and the US. The deal with Yum! Brands, meanwhile, will be used to make plant-based ‘meat’ toppings for Pizza Hut pizzas and KFC’s ‘Beyond Fried Chicken’ products permanent menu offerings.

“Given the consumer response during recent tests with Beyond Meat, we're excited about the long-term potential plant-based protein menu items have to attract more customers to our brands, especially younger consumers," Yum! Brands’ chief financial officer Chris Turner said.

"We expect this Beyond Meat partnership to strengthen our brands' capability to offer delicious, plant-based menu items that are driven by consumer demand for more diverse protein options and our brands' strategies in local markets."


Join the conversation at edie's Circular Economy Inspiration Sessions

On 25 March, as part of its special Circular Economy Week of online content and events, edie is hosting three live, interactive webinar presentations and discussions – all dedicated to accelerating the transition to a zero-waste economy. 

Called the Circular Economy Inspiration Sessions, the three events, range from Q&A style debates with circular economy experts, business-led panel discussions and a masterclass. Experts from organisations including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and The Body Shop are taking part. 

For full details and to register, click here. 


Sarah George



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