Burger King rolls out green packaging pilot program

Burger King, Miami, announced that the fast-food chain is launching a green packaging pilot program focused on finding scalable solutions for eight of the company’s most-used, guest-facing items, including forks, spoons, knives, straws, drink lids, french fry containers known as Frypods, Whopper wrappers and napkins.

The guest packaging will be tested in 51 of the chain’s company-owned restaurants in Miami. The packaging utilizes alternative materials such as Frypods made with renewable unbleached virgin paperboard; cutlery made with cPLA—a plant-based plastic; and napkins made with 100 percent recycled fiber.

The company will also be testing paper- and plant-based straws along with strawless lids, which could potentially eliminate up to 500 million single-use plastic straws annually from participating U.S. Burger King restaurants, the company says. According to Burger King, this action alone would translate to the removal of 910 metric tons of greenhouse gasses per year, the equivalent of 196 vehicles driven for one year. The company also said it is testing two new options for its Whopper sandwich wraps. These wraps, respectively, represent a 13 and 34 percent reduction in the paper compared to previous wraps. Adoption of these wraps could translate to an additional 500 to 1,500 metric tons of paper waste eliminated annually across the U.S.

“Sustainable packaging is a cornerstone of our ‘Restaurant Brands for Good’ journey, and this new pilot represents a huge opportunity for us to make a difference,” Matthew Banton, head of innovation and sustainability at Burger King, says. “We’re optimistic about our progress and are committed to reducing waste to do our part in creating a more sustainable future.”

By piloting solutions in restaurants, the company is hoping to get direct feedback from guests on how the packages perform. This will also allow the company to make iterative changes with its packaging supplier and build an implementation road map for the system should it be rolled out to additional restaurants. Upon completion of the pilot test, the company says it will take the learnings and guest feedback to inform its plans for nationwide sustainable packaging in the next year.

This pilot program follows Burger King’s recent partnership with Trenton, New Jersey-based TerraCycle in which certain cities have access to reusable packaging through TerraCycle’s Loop brand.

“The green packaging pilot is another action Burger King is taking to align with its principle of doing what’s right. In that spirit, we are continuing to develop our global partnership with Loop to reduce single-use packaging through reusables and are looking to include two new cities, Paris and London, in addition to the earlier announced target cities of New York, Portland, and Tokyo. Our reusable pilot will offer more guests the option to join us in our efforts to reduce waste when ordering their Burger King favorites like the Whopper sandwich, soft drinks or coffee.

Burger King notes that it is partnering with The Coca-Cola Company, Atlanta, and Kraft Heinz, Chicago, to bring these initiatives to life.

“Leveraging our combined size and resources, we will work together to provide insights, packaging expertise, and resources on these pilots, helping to maximize future national potential,” Burger King said in a release.

“We continue to innovate and rethink how consumers enjoy Coca-Cola beverages. We are excited to partner with Burger King to offer a reusable packaging alternative for their guests,” Barry Danckert, vice president of the Global RBI Customer Team at The Coca-Cola Company, says. “This effort supports The Coca-Cola Company’s ‘World Without Waste’ initiative and virgin plastic reduction goal.”

“Burger King has been leading the charge in foodservice sustainability and Kraft Heinz is excited to partner with them and Loop to offer reusable packaging around the world. Global companies and global brands have the power to help shape the world for good and Kraft Heinz is committed to a better future with responsible recycling and reusable initiatives,” Peter Hall, president of the U.S. Away From Home division of Kraft Heinz, says.

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