KFC to train all 28,000 UK staff to tackle litter

In light of the fact that many local authorities have reported an increase in littering since lockdown first began, KFC has launched a new strategy to combat the problem, including large-scale staff training.

Pictured: Staff at KFC Taunton litter picking 

Pictured: Staff at KFC Taunton litter picking 

According to countryside charity the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), unprecedented levels of litter were recorded in many UK regions during summer 2020, including Essex, Dorset and the Lake District. Causes included new streams of litter, like single-use face masks; reduced bin collections in line with social distancing requirements and increased use of food-to-go as dine-in was unavailable.

KFC’s new plan for helping to tackle the issue is being delivered in partnership with Keep Britain Tidy and has received support from the Department for Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra). The fast-food chain said in a statement that it has seen litter increasing across the high streets, retail sites and communities in which it operates.

Under the plans, KFC has launched a dedicated ‘litter line’ under its customer service head office contact team. Customers will be able to call the line to report litter issues, enabling faster remediation locally. Staff manning the line will also be able to offer customers more information on KFC’s commitments and actions to reduce litter and waste. The contact address is litter@kfc.co.uk.

KFC is also introducing compulsory training for all UK store staff, designed to increase their knowledge on the environmental impact of litter and their knowledge of best-practice ways for mitigating litter. To this latter point, the firm has also forged new partnerships with five councils in England to co-develop pilot programmes for tackling litter through behaviour change. Successful schemes could be scaled to offer “longer-term” solutions to litter picks, which KFC restaurants are already encouraged to undertake three times each day.

“We’ve all seen how the pandemic this past year has caused us to stop and take time to value the environment we live in,” KFC UK & Ireland’s general manager Paula MacKenzie said.

“Litter carries a cost to the community, to businesses and to the environment, and that’s why we’re joining forces with Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean to make sure more people can enjoy the space around them."

The news from KFC comes in the same week that Starbucks announced plans to launch a reusable cup 'sharing' initiative in all British stores in the coming months, ahead of a roll-out across Europe, the Middle East and Africa by 2025.

Focus on fast food

The food-to-go sector has been a target of increased scrutiny on plastics ever since Blue Planet 2 first aired in 2017.

While several brands had begun work to remove plastic packaging, improve recyclability or prevent littering before lockdown, not-for-profit City to Sea conducted research in 2020 revealing that many food-to-go brands were struggling to remove single-use plastics from front-of-house operations amid lockdown restrictions, with eight in ten brands having made no progress between January and November 2020.

The good news is that the phase-out now seems to be well underway once more. Brands including Costa and Boston Tea Party are working with City to Sea to incentivise reusable cup use while also staying Covid-19 safe. Elsewhere, McDonald’s and Burger King are working with TerraCycle’s Loop scheme to trial reusable packaging including cups and have updated their respective UK plastic packaging strategies, with Burger King UK now aiming to eliminate single-use plastic packaging by 2025.

Sarah George



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