Yum! Brands has pledged to phase out all of its polystyrene foam packaging by 2022 after a shareholder urged the company to do so.
Yum! mostly uses the material for take-out containers and its elimination by the brand should remove around 100 million foam items from production each year.
The rarely recycled and harmful expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam packaging, sometimes known as Styrofoam, is a frequent component of beach litter and breaks down into indigestible pellets that animals mistake for food, a sometimes fatal mistake.
Yum! Brands, the world’s largest quickservice restaurant company and owner of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, was prompted by shareholder advocacy group As You Sow to make the move.
Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president of As You Sow, commented: “This action could significantly reduce the amount of single use packaging that ends up as littered waste, especially in developing economies where Yum! does substantial business.”
In recent years McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Brands have also removed polystyrene from their operations, each cutting about one billion foam cups from the total produced each year.