KFC to ditch nonrecyclable packaging

The chain’s U.S. market has also achieved its goal of antibiotic-free chicken.
Photograph courtesy of KFC

All packaging used at KFC restaurants around the world will be recyclable by 2025, the company pledged Thursday as part of a plan to use more sustainable packaging at the 22,000-unit chicken giant.

The company says it has developed a “road map” that includes working with major suppliers and its franchisees around the world to identify alternatives to plastic in each market.

It is auditing systems with franchisees to find opportunities to reduce plastic use and is working with suppliers on alternatives to plastic bags, straws, cutlery and lids.

“KFC is in a position to have a real impact on how the industry approaches waste, and packaging management overall,” KFC CEO Tony Lowings said in a statement. “This commitment represents a public acknowledgment of the obligation we have to address these serious issues.”

The chicken chain also said that its U.S. market has reached its goal, established in April 2017, to purchase only chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine. The company said it worked with 2,000 farms across the country to meet the goal—and says it is the country’s first major bone-in chicken chain to source only antibiotic-free birds.

Restaurant chains in recent months have been pushing to expand their sustainability efforts into packaging amid concerns about plastic waste ending up in oceans and other waterways.

McDonald’s and Starbucks, for instance, are working together to improve cups. Starbucks says it will eliminate plastic straws.

KFC said its restaurants in several markets have already announced plans to reduce the use of certain plastics. In Singapore, the brand said it would stop using plastic straws and cup lids. KFC in Romania and France has said it plans to switch to paper straws, and KFC in India is eliminating plastic bags.

KFC also said it plans to join a global packaging innovation group, NextGen Cup—the group founded by Starbucks and McDonald’s that is working on developing a more sustainable cup. The group also includes Coca-Cola and is advised by the World Wildlife Fund.

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