Yum Brands Establishes New Packaging Policy, Shifts to Sustainable Materials

Yum Brands, the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut, The Habit Burger Grill and Taco Bell, is keen to jump into the world of sustainable packaging. It has established a new packaging policy that reimagines some of its classic packaging, like Pizza Hut’s pizza boxes and KFC’s chicken bucket.

The company wants to get rid of unnecessary packaging and shift to more sustainable materials. Yum Brands is striving for better recycling systems and reusable products. It stated that each brand is currently at a different stage of sustainable packaging development.

Jon Hixson, Yum’s chief sustainability officer and vice president of global government affairs, said its their responsibility as the world’s largest restaurant company to help solve for the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. He shared that they have been diligently working on this challenge for years, and it’s now been unified across the 150-plus countries and territories in which they operate.

Reducing Plastics

Yum Brands is reducing its use of unrecoverable plastics, which cannot be recycled and are often found in wrappers, cups, lids and cutlery. It plans to source more sustainable materials. It should be noted that Pizza Hut has already eliminated plastics in consumer-facing packaging at its restaurants in India and Brunei. Its units in New Zealand are about 95% plastic-free and 90% plastic-free in Australia.

Susan Miles, the brand’s global director of sustainability and packaging, said KFC is taking a mindful approach when transitioning to more sustainable materials. The brand, worldwide, has moved away from Styrofoam. It is opting for recyclable plastic or fiber-based containers. Moreover, several KFC markets have eliminated plastic straws, cutlery and bags. The brand wants to adopt additional practices developed in its individual markets, like a widely recyclable, plastic-free bucket in the U.K.

Miles explained that by using new materials and methods of making buckets, the company is able to source a more sustainable alternative while staying true to its iconic bucket, which the customers know and love.


More Recyclable

Pizza Hut is working to make its packaging more recyclable. In Australia, its pizza boxes are made from 100% recycled content, while in the U.K it’s about 70% recycled content. Hixson said a lot of progress has been made at the global level in terms of creating a more sustainable ecosystem of products and operational efficiencies throughout the brand’s restaurant system. Yum is committed to good growth and it cannot do that without a plan to preserve the planet.

James Watts, Pizza Hut global chief people & Environmental Social & Governance officer, said they are lucky to be starting from a position of strength when it comes to plastics due to using primarily corrugated cardboard. He added that they remain focused on closing the gaps that exist around unnecessary plastics and have also started to explore how they can use their packaging as a way to educate customers on how to recycle them. The brand has globally moved from expanded polystyrene plastic (Styrofoam) to more recyclable plastic or fiber-based containers for its side items, and has purchased more of its paper-based packaging with fiber from responsibly managed forests and recycled sources.