viernes, enero 07, 2011

CSR at Yum! Not!

I don't know if people take CSR reports released by the fast-food industry seriously. The whole idea of 'fast' and 'food' is something that obviously reeks of unsustainability and revels in the use-and-throw. Yum! Brands Inc. the parent company of Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut has just released its CSR report. A KFC just recently opened up in my town so this seems an appropriate time to focus on it.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for fast-food chains is packaging. Packaging innovation should pay a major role in CSR efforts, especially if they operate in countries like India where solid waste collection is largely disorganized. The second biggest issue is the products they endorse - all of which involves chemical-intensive agriculture, vast amounts of processing often using soy and corn-based additives like lethicin, HFCS etc, transportation and finally the actual motions of serving the food in the outlet. All of this rakes up a huge carbon and water footprint. All means that CSR efforts in fast-food industry are generally not taken seriously enough.

In the CSR report released by Yum! there seems to be a focussed effort on packaging. The brands in the US use napkins made from 100% recycled contend and have drink cups made from recycled content as well. In Australia, 100% of pizza boxes and 80% of KFC boxes are made from recycled sources. By 2011, KFC US aims to reduce packaging by 62% and plastic use by 17%. Pizza Hut UK started a recycling program which is reducing waste by 30 %.

Taco Bell also worked towards eliminating over two million pounds of materials from some of its packaging. In the UK, KFC switched to new paper packaging that comes from 100% renewable sources. KFC France uses 50% recycled paper in all communication materials.

Apart from this, they have also invested in energy conservation as well as using green building technology that uses 30% less energy and water in the future. Their goal is to develop five LEED certifiable restaurant prototypes across US and China by 2012.

Whilst it does talk about ethical sourcing of food and animal welfare, the brand has been accused of animal abuse in the past. KFC in particular has had severe allegations made against them by animal rights' groups regarding their sources of chicken. Their report also talks about the benefits of a balanced diet and an active lifestyle. However just last year KFC introduced the Double Down which has a whopping 540 calories and 1,430 milligrams of sodium! Taco Bell has equally bad numbers attached to their menu.

It cannot be ignored that only in 2006 there were reports that an unapproved silicone-based food additive manufactured by Dow Chemicals was being used as a stabilizer for cheese at Pizza Hut although the report mentions 'health and safety'. In addition to all this they do not mention anything about the actual sourcing of the ingredients which make up their food: Where does it come from? How is it processed? What goes into it?

Whilst Yum! may be making a commendable effort in terms of packaging, when it comes to their core product there is no evidence of responsibility, corporate or otherwise. It makes you wonder if some industries are fundamentally unsustainable...

Fuente: Just Means

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