Burger King will bring reusable coffee cups, soft drinks cups and burger boxes to restaurants in the US and Japan early next year as part of a partnership with TerraCycle.
The fast-food giant has worked with TerraCycle’s Loop arm to develop the packaging, which is made from rigid plastic. It will be trialled at selected restaurants in Tokyo, New York City and Portland, Oregon, in the first quarter of 2021.
At the participating restaurants, customers will be charged a deposit fund for the packaging when they purchase their meal. This will be refunded when they return the packaging through the restaurants’ collection system.
Once collected, the packaging is cleaned and sanitised in-house. At the end of its lifecycle, TerraCycle collects the packaging for recycling.
Burger King has chosen to trial the packaging on medium and large hot drinks and soft drinks and on its best-selling burger, the Whopper. It will use feedback from the trial to determine whether to introduce the packaging to more lines or to roll out the reuse system to other restaurants.
“During Covid-19, we have seen the environmental impact of increased takeaway ordering, which makes this initiative by Burger King all the more important,” TerraCycle’s chief executive officer Tom Szaky said.
“This enables Burger King consumers to easily bring reusability into their daily lives, and whether they choose to eat-in or takeaway, they will be able to get some of their favourite food and drinks in a reusable container.”
Burger King’s plastics strategy includes a commitment to remove single-use plastics where possible and to ensure that all packaging is packaging recyclable, biodegradable or compostable by 2025. In the UK, the chain removed plastic straws in 2018 and plastic toys from kids’ meals in late 2019.
As for TerraCycle, Loop recently announced a global partnership with McDonald’s on beverage containers. The initiative will begin next year, starting in the UK. Loop is also working with doughnut and coffee giant Tim Hortons in Canada.
The reusable format has been welcomed by Greenpeace, which has been calling for big businesses to go beyond recyclability and reduce their plastics consumption.
“The fast-food sector is among the most wasteful in the world; nearly everything is packaged in unrecyclable, single-use packaging that is only used for a few seconds or minutes,” Greenpeace USA’s oceans campaign director John Hocevar said.
“It is encouraging to see Burger King experimenting with reusables, and we hope to see them scale this initiative up as soon as possible. Reusables can be cleaned and sanitized to protect our health, while also making meaningful progress for our environment.”
In related news, Arsenal FC’s parent company Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE) has signed an agreement with packaging giant Ball to help improve the sustainability of beverages at sports events.
Arsenal FC introduced a reusable cup scheme in partnership with the local Camden Town Brewery at the beginning of the 2019/2020 football season following a successful trial period the year prior. The initiative has seen Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium offer beer in reusable cups, as opposed to single-use, with numerous drop-off and collection points signposted within the stadium where fans can place the reusable alternatives.
KSE’s partnership will Ball will help the Emirates Stadium to introduce reusable aluminium cups for other beverages, including fizzy drinks. Models of reuse will also be developed for KSE’s other sports teams including the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche.
Ball’s chief executive officer called the partnership “a unique opportunity to both bring aluminium beverage packaging into sports venues and partner with an iconic team that is already leading the way on sustainability”.
Arsenal had notably already mitigated the use of half a million single-use plastic cups by February 2020. The club works with partners including Friends of the Earth and Sky to deliver against its sustainability strategy.
“Every generation is significantly more environmentally aware than the last and the power and reach of the Arsenal badge gives us the opportunity to provide real leadership on this issue,” the football club’s commercial director Peter Silverstone said. “Purpose-led partnerships will become even more of a focus as we move forward and we’re proud to have an incredible partner on board to help us inspire and empower our community across the world to take action to reduce our environmental impact and push each other towards a sustainable future.”