KFC pledges to remove all single-use plastic packaging by 2025

Fast food chain KFC has pledged to remove all single-use plastic items from its range of consumer-facing packaging by 2025, in a bid to minimise its waste output.

Under the pledge, KFC will replace all consumer-facing single-use plastic items with more sustainable alternatives

Under the pledge, KFC will replace all consumer-facing single-use plastic items with more sustainable alternatives

The commitment, which covers KFC’s 135 global markets, will see the company re-design the majority of its own-brand packaging lines to be recyclable, reusable or compostable over the next six years.

Items set to be included in this re-design scheme include straws, plastic bags, cutlery and lids for soft drinks and hot beverages.

In order to ensure that alternative materials do not generate unintended negative sustainability consequences, KFC will form partnerships with its key suppliers, waste management contractors and franchise owners to develop packaging solutions suitable for each market.

The chain will also work to scale up production of these solutions and offer them to other food-to-go businesses, KFC’s chief executive officer Tony Lowrings confirmed.

"As a global brand that operates more than 22,000 restaurants in over 135 countries, KFC is in a position to have a real impact on how the industry approaches waste and packaging management overall," Lowrings said.

"With environmental sustainability as a core aspect of how we do business, this commitment represents a public acknowledgement of the obligation we have to address these serious issues."

Fast food sector shifts

The commitment from KFC comes as the chain is targeting a string of plastic phase-outs in several of its key markets. It banned plastic straws and cup lids from its 84 Singapore-based restaurants last year, for example, and has already begun replacing all plastic straws, bags, bowls and sporks with plastic-free alternatives across India.

Additionally, KFC’s parent company Yum! Brands recently joined the NextGen Cup Consortium Challenge – a collaboration forged between impact investors Closed Loop Partners and corporates such as McDonald’s and Starbucks with the aim of bringing recyclable and compostable coffee cups to markets.

Yum! Brands has already replaced the cold drink cups and lids at its US-based Taco Bell stores with recyclable alternatives, with other fast food chains having taken similar actions in recent times amid increasing concerns about the damaging build-up of plastic waste in oceans.

Burger King, for example, is also working to make all of its packaging recyclable, biodegradable or compostable by 2025 after removing plastic straws from all its UK restaurants last year. The chain claims the straw ban will cut the brand’s UK-based plastic use by 29 tonnes each year, reducing its total annual plastic output by 36%.

McDonald’s, meanwhile, recently unveiled plans to replace its straws with paper alternatives and make them available only on request, while the likes of Costa, Wetherspoon and Nando’s have also agreed to phase-out plastic straw use in some shape or form.

Sarah George



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