CHINA – Yum China – the operator of fast food chains including KFC in mainland China – has launched a raft of plastic reduction and sustainable packaging initiatives across its brands.

As a result of these actions, Yum China says that it expects to see a reduction of approximately 8,000 tons in non-degradable plastics annually starting this year.

According to Yum China, the initiatives are in line with the latest regulations in China, while also aligning with its company-wide packaging strategy, which includes the goal of a 30% reduction in non-degradable plastic packaging weight by 2025.

From January 2021, all KFC restaurants in mainland China will stop using plastic straws while over 90% of the restaurants will replace disposable plastic cutlery with wooden cutlery for dine in and takeaway.

 Yum China expects to roll out this ambitious switch across the entire chain in mainland China by the end of 2025.

The Chinese franchise holder further noted that the restaurants will also phase out non-degradable plastic bags within the next five years.

A similar transition is underway at Pizza Hut restaurants in mainland China, which have already reportedly eliminated the use of plastic straws and aim to do the same for non-degradable plastic bags by the end of 2022.

“The new plastic reduction initiatives reinforce our sustainability strategy to drive meaningful change through packaging innovation and reduction,” said Joey Wat, CEO of Yum China.

“In line with our long-term commitment of supporting economic, social and environmental development, we are committed to working with customers, partners and all other stakeholders to promote a more sustainable future.”

The move by Yum follows an announcement by KFC Canada that select restaurants in Canada will begin testing a new fibre-based ‘spork’ from as early as December last year.

According to KFC, the entire decomposition process for the new spork will take about 18 months, required no additional treatment and left no toxic by-products.

KFC Canada had then said that the effort if successful will see the elimination of millions of plastics from its production chain.

The fast-food chain said that beyond the testing period, it had plans to permanently introduce the compostable cutlery across the entire Canadian chain eliminating up to 40 million pieces of plastic waste from its operations.

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