KFC, one of the world's largest quick service restaurant chains, has publicly committed to ensuring that all plastic-based, consumer-facing packaging across its global system will be recoverable or reusable by 2025. The goal supports the fried chicken brand's long-term plan to implement a more sustainable packaging strategy in its restaurants, by both developing and using sustainable packaging options.
"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," said Tony Lowings, chief executive officer of KFC. "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."
To meet these goals, KFC has developed a roadmap that includes partnering with major suppliers and franchisees globally to identify plastic alternatives in each market. The restaurant chain is working on several key initiatives related to achieving these goals, including conducting an audit of current systems with franchisees to identify plastic waste reduction opportunities; partnering with suppliers to identify sustainable packaging alternatives for items like straws, plastic bags, cutlery and lids; and setting market-specific goals to reduce, reuse and recycle.
KFC will support franchisees to define and implement their own sustainability agenda to address the unique needs of local markets and customers. Markets will also continue to have their own, additional local sustainability goals that vary based on local market conditions and regulations.
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Several markets have already announced plans to reduce the use of certain plastics, including: KFC Singapore’s intention to stop providing plastic straws and cup lids in its 84 restaurants; KFC Romania’s and France’s common goal to replace all plastic straws with paper; and KFC India’s removal of consumer plastic bags from their restaurants and ongoing transition to sustainable alternatives for plastic cups, bowls, sporks and straws.
In addition to the restaurant chain's new plastics goal and the existing commitment by its parent company – Yum Brands, Inc. – to source 100% of fibre-based packaging from certified or recycled sources by 2020, KFC has committed to global packaging innovation by signing on as a supporting partner with NextGen Consortium
. NextGen is a multi-year, multi-industry global consortium that aims to advance the design, commercialisation, and recovery of food packaging alternatives. Through this partnership, KFC hopes to identify fibre packaging solutions that are recoverable across global infrastructures.
Thabisa Mkhwanazi, KFC Africa’s corporate affairs director added, “As one of the leading QSR brands in the industry, KFC remains committed to embarking on initiatives that uphold environmental standards in the communities where we operate. It is, therefore, our responsibility to take the necessary measures and implement practices that will ensure that we can reduce our environmental impact as much as possible.”
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A 2018 report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) indicates that South Africans use between 30kg and 50kgs of plastic per person per year, with most of this ending up in the marine ecosystem which can take many years to break down. This makes the reduction of plastic based packaging even more critical in preserving the environment.
KFC South Africa says it's already made progress against this goal and is currently looking into plastic usage in its restaurants starting with the elimination of plastic straws and making the move towards paper straws. In addition to this, the brand has removed disposable plastic beverage cups from its KFC head office.