Yum! Brands announces 'greener' paper policy

April 08, 2013

KCF, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell policy excludes fiber from conversion of old-growth rainforests to plantations.

After a prolonged campaign by environmental activists, the world's largest fast food company has announced a new sourcing policy that will shift it toward greener packaging materials.

Yum! Brands, the restaurant giant that owns Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, says it will exclude paper and cardboard that has been sourced via the destruction of tropical rainforests. Yum also says it will increase the proportion of recycled content in its packaging; eliminate fiber from forests that have been converted to plantations and forests where wood has been harvested in violation of human rights; and timber from unknown origins.

"Given the large volume of packaging we buy, Yum! is uniquely positioned to provide environmentally preferable packaging to our consumers around the globe while also reducing our impact on the environment and our communities," Yum said in a statement on its web site. "Yum! is committed to making sustainable packaging a priority."

Yum says it will give preference to suppliers who source wood fiber which meets "the most rigorous forest management standards" including the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) provided it meets overarching criteria on plantations, rights, and high conservation value. The standards suggest that Yum will exclude fiber produced via the conversion of primary forests for plantations, a long-running demand by environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the Dogwood Alliance, as well as young activist Cole Rasenberger.

Conversion of rainforests for acacia plantations in Borneo in 2012. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Yum will release "a more detailed procurement policy with public targets to achieve these goals" by 2014.

Conversion of forests for paper and packaging production is one of the biggest drivers of deforestation in some regions. Researchers estimate that up to a quarter of forest clearing in Sumatra since in mid-1980's was the result of pulp and paper production.


Given the large volume of packaging we buy, Yum! is uniquely positioned to provide environmentally preferable packaging to our consumers around the globe while also reducing our impact on the environment and our communities. Our ability to serve food safely, quickly and conveniently is largely dependent upon our use of disposable packaging.

Throughout the quick service restaurant industry, the way in which we package food has been consistent with the standardized packaging available in the industry. Understanding and addressing our packaging impact on the environment and working closely with our suppliers, is a global imperative for the long-term sustainability of our business.

Yum! is committed to making sustainable packaging a priority. In support of this commitment, we have developed the following Sustainable Sourcing and Waste Recovery Principles:
  • Yum! is moving toward Sustainable Sourcing by ensuring that paper and paper-based packaging products we buy do not knowingly come from illegal or other unwanted fiber sources.


    • Wood harvested in a manner that violates human rights
    • Wood harvested that violates local or international laws
    • Wood from high conservation value forests, unless those forests are credibly certified
    • Wood harvested from forests that have been converted to plantations or non-forest use
    • Wood where the source forest or forests are unknown

  • We will give preference to suppliers who source wood fiber, certified by a third-party, which meets the most rigorous forest management standards. Currently the Forest Stewardship Council standard is considered the most rigorous standard by leading conservation organizations. We will also source paper and packaging from other national certification systems that are endorsed by the Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), provided the fiber avoids the unwanted sources listed above. We will work with all suppliers to progressively increase the proportion of certified material as larger quantities become available.
  • Yum! is committed to Sustainable Packaging by increasing the amount of recycled content, as permitted by regulatory and technical constraints, across our global system. This will be done within packaging content regulations to ensure food safety, as well as within performance criteria to retain functionality. Though limited availability of suitable recycled fiber restricts our access to the supply of these materials in some geographical areas, we will work to leverage sustainable practices into all of our wrappers, napkins, and containers worldwide.
Over the next several months, Yum! will engage with our suppliers and gathering data on all paper-based packaging sourcing to assess our current state. This will allow us to better understand the forest sources of our fiber, identify higher risk sources, avoid or phase out of unwanted sources, and preference more responsible sources. By 2014, we will release a more detailed procurement policy with public targets to achieve these goals. We are collaborating with a third-party to assist us in this effort.

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mongabay.com (April 08, 2013).

Yum! Brands announces 'greener' paper policy.