The Wendy’s Co. said Tuesday that it plans to work with many of its rivals to improve the sustainability of foodservice industry packaging.
The Dublin, Ohio-based burger chain joined the NextGen Consortium, a multiyear partnership of foodservice leaders including Starbucks, McDonald’s, Yum Brands and Nestle and convened by Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy.
Closed Loop Partners is an investment firm that backs sustainable consumer goods, recycling technologies and other efforts.
Wendy’s is joining the group along with other industry leaders to address single-use food packaging waste. The consortium has created the NextGen Cup Challenge, which is focused on finding new sustainable cup designs.
“We know that our customers are increasingly aware of packaging waste and its impact on the environment, and they’re already doing their part to be more conscious about their product use and recycling habits,” Liliana Esposito, Wendy’s chief communications officer, said in a statement.
Wendy’s has created its own approach to sustainability that it calls Squarely Sustainable, a nod to its signature square burgers.
The approach focuses on using fewer unnecessary materials, using certified sustainable materials where possible, identifying customer-facing actions that can drive change and work with partners to find solutions to important problems.
Wendy’s eliminated Styrofoam from its restaurants in 2012 and more recently reduced fiber and plastic in several packaging formats, such as fry cartons, straws and bags.
The company said there is a “growing need to identify environmentally sustainable solutions” and a “lack of broadly available alternatives to single-use plastic and paper.”
Wendy’s operates more than 6,700 locations worldwide, most of them in the U.S.
Restaurant chains have increasingly focused on finding sustainable packages amid mounting concern for plastic waste—as single-use items such as straws and other types of packaging end up in oceans, lakes and streams.