The owner of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, Yum Brands Inc., is ditching expanded polystyrene packaging by 2022.
The EPS removal is just one facet of Yum Brands' plans to make all plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by the end of the year, according to a release.
"At Yum!, we believe that our iconic, global brands have a responsibility to make a positive impact on the environment in partnership with our franchisees and suppliers," David Gibbs, Yum Brands CEO, said in the release. "We've made strong progress over the years when it comes to our sustainability agenda and see renewable energy to reduce our carbon emissions as another important step on this journey."
Taco Bell announced in January a move to make all consumer-facing packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable, with recycling or composting bins added to restaurants by 2025. KFC made a similar pledge in January 2019.
EPS is used in beverage cups and takeout containers in about 40 of the company's global markets, a Feb. 27 release states. This includes about 4,000 U.S. locations and 2,700 around the world. While widely used, EPS typically is not collected by most municipal recycling systems.
"We appreciate Yum's commitment to phase out foam containers globally as a significant corporate leadership action," Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president of As You Sow, said in a statement. "This is a win for oceans and marine life as foam packaging poses particular threats to wildlife."
As You Sow, a shareholder of Yum Brands, proposed to the company to specifically phase out EPS foam, and the company agreed in a shareholder vote.
The Yum brands join other massive fast-food chains to stop using foam containers: McDonald's began phasing out the foam in 2018, followed by doughnut and coffee chain Dunkin'.